Jan 30, 2023 - News

AT&T criticized after dropping Newsmax

The AT&T headquarters building in Dallas, covered with fog

AT&T's headquarters in Dallas. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump and several other prominent conservatives are criticizing Dallas-based AT&T, which jointly owns satellite company DirecTV, for dropping right-wing cable channel Newsmax.

What happened: DirecTV removed Newsmax from its lineup last Tuesday night. DirecTV said it wanted to keep Newsmax on its list of provided channels but couldn't because of Newsmax's increasing fees.

Why it matters: Dozens of Republican lawmakers signed a letter to AT&T and DirecTV executives, alleging that the move to remove the channel amounted to liberal censorship of conservative media.

  • On Thursday, Trump called the decision "​​a big blow to the Republican Party, and to America itself," and said the "Radical Left seems to have taken over the mind and soul of AT&T."
  • Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado and the House Freedom Caucus' communications chair, suggested the House Oversight Committee should investigate AT&T.

Flashback: There were similar outcries last year, when DirecTV removed conservative news network OANN.

By the numbers: DirecTV has 13 million subscribers, per CNN.

  • Newsmax pulled in an average of fewer than 150,000 total daily viewers in 2022, per The Hill.
  • For comparison, a daily average of 1.4 million people watched Fox News, 733,000 watched MSNBC and 568,000 watched CNN.

The intrigue: AT&T, the world's largest communications company, has quietly become a powerful player in conservative politics. In 2021, the company was criticized by progressives for contributing to the conservative politicians who passed Texas' abortion ban.

The other side: Rob Thun, DirecTV's chief content officer, said in a press release that the company "values different viewpoints and perspectives and will always work to preserve expansive choice among a wide variety of entertainment and information services."

  • DirecTV recently added another conservative network, The First, to its services.

Reality check: Newsmax is still available to stream on YouTube, Roku and the network's own website.


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