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Newsmax returns to DirecTV after nasty dispute, censorship claims


DirecTV’s dispute with the conservative Newsmax network, which turned sour when the small channel won the support of Republican politicians, is ending with Newsmax’s return to the programming schedules of satellite TV customers.

The two companies announced a truce Wednesday after reaching a new distribution deal that will restore Newsmax to DirecTV customers’ homes this week.

El Segundo-based DirecTV has long maintained that abandoning Newsmax at the end of January was strictly a business decision, coming only after the controversial Boca Raton, Florida-based channel failed in its attempts to play hardball during transportation negotiations.

But Newsmax protested its removal from DirecTV, claiming censorship based on its policy. On air and online, Newsmax complained, without evidence, that DirecTV’s actions were driven by a disdain for conservatives.

Though the channel’s viewership is low, Newsmax has Republican friends in high places.

Members of Congress, who enjoy appearing on the channel that has become a cheerleader for right-wing causes, called for investigative hearings into DirecTV’s action. Former President Trump— whose rallies provide Newsmax with its highest ratings — called the move “disgusting” and urged people to cancel their subscriptions to DirecTV and the AT&T mobile network. AT&T is part owner of DirecTV.

But this week, the head of Newsmax praised DirecTV.

“Newsmax recognizes and appreciates that DirecTV clearly supports diverse voices, including conservative ones,” Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax CEO, said in the statement. “DirecTV helped get Newsmax started nearly a decade ago, as it continues to do with upcoming news networks, so we’re pleased to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”

Newsmax will return to the traditional satellite television platform, as well as U-verse and the DirecTV Stream digital service.

Other terms of the distribution agreement were not disclosed.

DirecTV executives had been angered by Newsmax’s censorship claims, pointing out that the previous agreement expired in January and that DirecTV lacked legal authorization to continue broadcasting the channel.

DirecTV executives felt they were being unfairly smeared for trying to control costs for the company’s 13 million subscribers at a time when traditional pay-TV distributors are struggling to retain customers in the streaming era.

DirecTV had offered Newsmax to its subscribers since the channel’s launch in 2014, but did not pay Newsmax a fee as the distributor does for other, more established networks, including Fox News.

Before negotiations went off the rails in January, DirecTV had said it was willing to keep Newsmax on its lineup on the same terms, without compensation. DirecTV argued that Newsmax programming was widely available for free as a streaming app and on an ad-supported free TV streaming channel carried by Roku, Pluto TV and other platforms.

But Newsmax wanted DirecTV to pay it about $1 per subscriber household per month.

A DirecTV spokesman said the channel will be offered “at no additional cost to our customers.”

Newsmax will join five other news channels offered by DirecTV: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NewsNation and First (which was added after Newsmax was removed from the lineups).

“This settlement with Newsmax, which resolves an all-too-common transportation dispute, underscores our dedication to bringing a broad range of programming and perspectives to our customers,” DirecTV CEO Bill Morrow said in the joint statement.

“Through our persistent negotiations, we reached a resolution under mutually agreed terms of trade that allow us to offer the conservative news network at the right value, a reflection of the free market in labor,” Morrow said.

Newsmax, along with San Diego-based One America News and Fox News, are facing defamation lawsuits from vote-counting machine maker Dominion Voting Systems over allegations that it promoted false claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Newsmax has said that it “simply reported on allegations made by well-known public figures, including the president, his advisers and members of Congress.”

Staff writer Stephen Battaglio contributed to this report.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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