DirecTV loss might cripple rightwing One America Information By Reuters
©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks with a reporter from One America News Network (OANN) from a bus window after touring around a section of the US-Mexico border on a Texas Highway Patrol vessel in Mission, Texas, USA. March 26, 2021.
By John Shiffman
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The largest satellite provider in the United States said late Friday it would shut down One America News, a move that could financially cripple the right-wing television network known for fomenting conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
The announcement of DirecTV, which is 70% owned by AT&T (NYSE:), comes three months after a Reuters investigation found that OAN’s founder said AT&T inspired him to build the network. Court testimony also showed that OAN receives nearly all of its earnings from DirecTV.
To read the Reuters report, click here: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-oneamerica-att
The Reuters report led to calls from some liberal groups for AT&T and DirecTV to drop OAN, a favorite of former President Donald Trump, as the network has become a major source of false claims about the election and COVID vaccinations.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden said COVID conspiracy theories are putting lives at risk. “I make a special appeal to social media companies and the media: Please deal with the misinformation and disinformation that is being seen on your shows,” Biden said. “That has to stop.”
OAN is owned by San Diego-based Herring Networks, a family of conservative tech entrepreneurs. CEO Robert Herring Sr. did not respond to email and phone requests for comment. In an interview with Reuters last year, he said his network offers an important voice. “If I think I’m right, I just do it,” he said.
DirecTV is by far the largest provider of OAN with around 15 million subscribers. According to OAN’s accountant, verified by Reuters, DirecTV provided 90% of the conservative network’s revenue.
“We have informed Herring Networks that following a routine internal review, we do not intend to enter into a new deal when our current agreement expires,” DirecTV said in a statement.
The OAN DirecTV contract will expire in the next few months. DirecTV began airing OAN in April 2017, a deal that began shortly after OAN and AT&T settled a dispute over alleged oral promises made during negotiations.
Taking to Twitter (NYSE:), some conservatives expressed outrage that DirecTV and AT&T were planning to drop OAN. “Corporate media is crushing what little dissent is left,” tweeted former Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs.
However, the pro-Trump right has powerful channels on television and the internet, including Fox News, the conservative cable news agency founded by Rupert Murdoch.
Liberals cheered the news. NAACP President Derrick Johnson called it “a victory for us and the future of democracy.” In a statement, Johnson added: “At a time when we are seeing our rights being violated, OAN is only trying to create another division. … We must continually choose truth over lies and common sense over hysteria.”
The news also follows a lawsuit filed Dec. 23 by two Georgia poll officials who accused OAN and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani of making false allegations of vote-rigging about them after the 2020 presidential election. The claims have been refuted by state authorities. OAN has denied doing anything wrong.
DirecTV did not elaborate on why OAN should be discontinued. Earlier, an AT&T spokesman said the company “airs many news channels that offer viewpoints from across the political spectrum.”
Reuters’ October investigative report cited affidavits in which OAN’s founder and his son testified that the inspiration for the conservative network of executives came from AT&T.
“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” the elder Herring said during a statement in 2019. “They only had one, that was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] Page. When they said so, I jumped on it and built one.”
During a 2020 court case, a transcript shows, an OAN attorney told the court, “If Herring Networks lost on DirecTV, for example, or didn’t get renewed, the company would go out of business tomorrow.”