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DirecTV to return Newsmax to lineup by end of week

A DirecTV satellite installation van in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan. (Photo by Dwight Burdette via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

DirecTV has reached an agreement with conservative commentary network Newsmax to return the channel to its satellite and streaming services by the end of the week.

The agreement will not result in a fee increase for customers of DirecTV satellite, DirecTV Stream or AT&T U-Verse, officials familiar with the deal said.

The channel returns about two months after DirecTV said it was removing Newsmax following a demand for carriage fees from the channel. Previously, Newsmax was available to DirecTV at no cost as the channel sought to build its audience and advertising sales.

Newsmax saw a steep increase in ratings following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which incumbent President Donald Trump lost to former Senator Joe Biden. Viewers upset by the Fox News Channel’s decision to call the presidential race in Arizona for Biden over Trump eventually moved to other conservative-oriented current affairs networks; most went to Newsmax.

Last year, Newsmax felt it was in a better position to negotiate direct carriage fees with cable and satellite operators, and did so with DirecTV prior to the expiration of its programming agreement with them. DirecTV balked at the request, and the channel was removed in January.

Since then, DirecTV and Newsmax have traded barbs over carriage of the news network, with Newsmax coloring the removal as a “de-platforming” of conservative-oriented news and drawing comparisons to DirecTV’s decision to pull Herring Network’s One America News (OAN) early last year.

Officials at DirecTV said the platform values diversity in news and perspectives, and that the decision to remove Newsmax was one concerning fees, not its programming. Those officials also noted Newsmax was widely available on free streaming services, including YouTube, though Newsmax says those free streams will eventually shut down.

The matter caught the attention of Republican lawmakers in Congress, who suggested DirecTV should be investigated for its decision to remove Newsmax and OAN. It was also fodder in the confirmation hearing of FCC nominee Gigi Sohn, who said DirecTV and other pay television company’s “most-favored term” contracts should be investigated. (Sohn ultimately withdrew her name from consideration for a commissioner position at the agency.)

With a new deal in place, officials at Newsmax softened their opposition to DirecTV, saying the channel now “recognizes and appreciates that DirecTV clearly supports diverse voices, including conservative ones.”

Executives at DirecTV are also pleased with the agreement.

“This resolution with Newsmax, resolving an all-too-common carriage dispute, underscores our dedication to delivering a wide array of programming and perspectives to our customers,” Bill Morrow, the chief executive of DirecTV, said in a statement emailed to reporters on Wednesday.

The carriage dispute between Newsmax and DirecTV ultimately resulted in satellite and streaming customers getting more conservative-oriented commentary channels than they did before the issue: While Newsmax was unavailable to DirecTV subscribers, the platform inked a deal to distribute the free streaming channel The First. That channel continues to be available on DirecTV.

DirecTV is owned by AT&T and TPG Capital.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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