Conservative commentary network Newsmax says it will end a free online simulcast of its channel following a dispute with satellite broadcaster DirecTV.
Early Wednesday morning, DirecTV told its satellite customers and subscribers of its streaming service DirecTV Stream that Newsmax was no longer available on its platform, but could be watched for free on other streaming services.
For years, Newsmax allowed DirecTV to retransmit its channel for free as part of a strategy to generate additional revenue by reaching as many viewers as possible. This year, Newsmax suddenly requested DirecTV pay a fee in exchange for the right to retransmit the channel, a demand that the satellite company turned down.
Newsmax has gone on the offense, accusing DirecTV of playing politics. The channel has found a sympathetic voice with a large group of Republican lawmakers, who accuse DirecTV of playing favorites with mainstream news outlets to the detriment of conservative ones.
Those lawmakers point out DirecTV’s decision last year to drop One America News, a startup channel owned by Herring Networks that found favor with supporters of former President Donald Trump. Both One America News and Newsmax were accused of spreading misinformation related to the 2020 presidential election, which Trump lost but refused to concede.
DirecTV says business, not politics, was the main reason why it decided to drop Newsmax: The satellite company said it couldn’t justify paying Newsmax to carry a channel that is available on other platforms like YouTube, Paramount Global’s Pluto TV and Haystack News for free.
On a new website, officials at Newsmax said that free stream will soon go away, and affirmed cable and other pay television products “will be the main way for you to continue to get Newsmax.” The company hasn’t specified when it will end the free online stream; the channel is still available to stream over the Internet with a subscription to Sling TV, Vidgo or Fubo TV.
What won’t be ending anytime soon: Newsmax’s fight against DirecTV and its majority owner, AT&T.
“This isn’t about Newsmax — this is a much larger issue about free speech, censorship, political discrimination and the future of this country,” Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, said in an interview broadcast by the network on Wednesday. “This is not a carriage dispute; this is about whether Newsmax should be allowed to be treated like other cable channels at all.”