The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Dish wants to woo Newsmax fans from DirecTV

A still frame from a broadcast on cable commentary network Newsmax. (Graphic by The Desk)
A still frame from a broadcast on cable commentary network Newsmax. (Graphic by The Desk)

Dish is hoping subscribers of competing satellite service DirecTV will switch now that DirecTV customers have lost access to the conservative commentary channel Newsmax.

In a post on the company’s Dish Insiders Guide, a Dish official touted the wide variety of news channels available on the service, including Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, C-SPAN and BBC World News.

Most of Dish Network’s cable news channels are available to subscribers of the company’s America’s Top 120 package, which starts at $88 a month. New customers can typically receive a promotional rate, and those prices are guaranteed for at least three years, though some packages include a $12 a month fee for local broadcast stations that can otherwise be received for free with an antenna.

DirecTV dropped Newsmax in mid-January after the channel demanded a retransmission consent agreement that included fees for continued distribution of its programming. Previously, Newsmax was made available to DirecTV without a carriage fee as the upstart conservative commentary channel tried to cultivate an audience in order to generate revenue from advertisements.

Officials with DirecTV said they couldn’t justify paying for Newsmax when the channel is accessible on YouTube and other online platforms for free. Newsmax responded by claiming its free online feed will soon go away, leaving cable and satellite as the only method to watch Newsmax programming live.

DirecTV’s decision to drop Newsmax has rankled some conservative lawmakers, who accuse the AT&T-owned television service of playing political favorites to mainstream media outlets and some fringe general entertainment channels. Those critics note that DirecTV previously dropped another conservative commentary channel, One America News Network, last year, even though AT&T helped financially support that channel’s launch in the first place.

Last week, DirecTV quietly responded to those critics by reaching a distribution deal with The First, an online conservative commentary channel that includes programs like “No Spin News,” a current events analysis program by former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, and “The Dana Show” hosted by former National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch.

“DirecTV values different viewpoints and perspectives and will always work to preserve expansive choice among a wide variety of entertainment and information services to appeal to the unique tastes and interests of our diverse customer base,” Rob Thun, the chief content officer at DirecTV, said in a statement. “As we’ve successfully done with other emerging channels, we look forward to helping The First continue to expand its audience reach, while constantly ensuring that our customers receive a strong value.”

In addition to The First, DirecTV continues to offer conservative commentary fans access to Fox News Channel, Fox Business and the streaming service Fox Nation.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).