Newsmax suffered a major blow as satellite television provider DirecTV ended its carriage, cutting its 13 million subscribers from the potential audience for the conservative cable news outfit. This amounts to 25% of the 50 million viewers Newsmax claims to reach. The two companies are making contradictory claims about the imbroglio, and while censorship of conservative views cannot be ruled out as a causal factor, there appear to be purely commercial considerations affecting the decision.

Any discussion of the matter must begin with the raw fact that the era of “cord cutting,” where subscribers dump their monthly fee to receive cable and satellite channels and rely instead on streaming services, is seriously challenging the industry, diminishing the revenue of DirecTV, Comcast, and everyone else in the business. DirecTV has downsized its staff by hundreds of employees and claims it doesn’t have new financial resources to spend on programming content. Newsmax, after charging nothing to DirecTV as a carriage charge since its inception, was seeking to begin receiving such revenue, and DirecTV cited that as the reason for dropping the channel:

“On multiple occasions, we made it clear to Newsmax that we wanted to continue to offer the network, but ultimately Newsmax’s demands for rate increases would have led to significantly higher costs that we would have to pass on to our broad customer base,” a DirecTV spokesperson told The Daily Beast shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

Newsmax, however, points out that other channels, including its news channel competitors, do receive a carriage fee:

DirecTV pays cable license fees to all top 75 cable channels and to all 22 liberal news and information channels it carries. Almost all of these channels are paid hefty license fees significantly more than Newsmax was seeking — and despite the fact most of the channels have much lower ratings than Newsmax.

“This is a blatant act of political discrimination and censorship against Newsmax,” Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax said.

“The most extreme liberal channels, even with tiny ratings, get fees from AT&T’s DirecTV, but Newsmax and OAN need to be deplatformed,” Ruddy added.

The key sticking point appears to be the fact that Newsmax streams its content for free on YouTube, on, and on multiple streaming services. I am able to watch Newsmax on my Roku box, for example, with no subscription fee. A DirecTV spokesman said:

Anyone, including our customers, can watch the network for free via, and on multiple streaming platforms like Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Google Play. We continually evaluate the most relevant programming to provide our customers and expect to fill this available channel with new content.

I’d like to see Newsmax flourish and reach a large audience. It has achieved a respectable size. As I pointed out a few days ago, at times, Newsmax pulls in more than a third of the audience of MSNBC and almost as large a share of CNN’s viewers.

Some GOP politicians are speaking out in support of Newsmax:

Last week, as news spread in Congress that AT&T DirecTV was moving to deplatform Newsmax, 41 Republican Congressmen led by Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, sent a letter to the CEO’s of AT&T, DirecTV, and hedge fund TPG Capital, the minority operator of the satellite system, warning of hearings.

Needless to say, lefty media are celebrating the blow with specious claims that Newsmax is less reliable than, well, they are. MSNBC, which labeled the George Floyd riots in Minneapolis “mostly peaceful” as a building burned in the background of its reporter, and which hyped the Russia hoax continuously, huffed:

GOP lawmakers are up in arms that DirecTV might pull the plug on a major source of right-wing disinformation, and they’re trying to throw their weight around to stop it. In a letter late last week, more than 40 Republicans decried the possibility that DirecTV would no longer offer Newsmax — the archconservative, Trump-loving network known for spreading lies.

The business environment of the mass media has become increasingly difficult. I hope that a compromise can be reached that leaves Newsmax on DirecTV.

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