- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Newsmax will return to DirecTV after the companies announced a deal to resolve a bitter dispute over carriage fees led to the popular conservative news channel being dumped for two months.

Newsmax Media and DirecTV announced Wednesday that a multi-year distribution deal had been reached, making Newsmax available once again to viewers of DirecTV, DirecTV Stream, and U-verse starting Thursday.

“This resolution with Newsmax, resolving an all-too-common carriage dispute, underscores our dedication to delivering a wide array of programming and perspectives to our customers,” said Bill Morrow, chief executive of DirecTV.

“Through our persistent negotiations, we reached a resolution under mutually-agreeable business terms allowing us to deliver the conservative news network at the right value — a reflection of the free market at work,” he said.

Conservatives had accused DirecTV of seeking to censor right-of-center voices by dropping Newsmax on Jan. 25 after having previously dumped the One America News Network, leading to calls for a boycott campaign against AT&T, which is a part owner of DirecTV.

Days after cutting off Newsmax, DirecTV picked up The First TV, a conservative opinion channel whose personalities include former Fox host Bill O’Reilly.

Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy made it clear in a statement that all is forgiven on the political censorship front.

Newsmax recognizes and appreciates that DIRECTV clearly supports diverse voices, including conservative ones,” Mr. Ruddy said. “As a standalone company, DIRECTV gave Newsmax its start nearly a decade ago as it continues to do with upcoming news networks, which is why we are pleased to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that will deliver our network to DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM and U-verse customers over the next several years.”

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the companies emphasized that Newsmax would be available “at no additional cost to customers.”

Newsmax had sought cable licensing fees from DirecTV, saying it had not been paid despite airing on DirecTV for nine years and earning higher ratings than channels that were being paid.

DirecTV said that such carriage disputes were common, calling them “an unfortunately but increasingly frequent occurrence involving nearly every pay TV and streaming provider attempting to keep rising consumer costs in check.”

“Over the past five years alone, the industry has endured no less than 140 distinct disputes pitting programmers or station groups against their primary distributors,” said the company in a statement. “While some resolve in as little as a few hours to days or weeks, others last several months to more than a year.”

The cable carrier said, that since Newsmax was dropped, “DIRECTV has resolved public disputes with approximately 50 programmers or station groups, typically lasting a few days or weeks, but routinely extending to several months in some instances.”

Conservatives cheering the news included Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, who said Wednesday that “our democracy’s health depends on free speech.”

“Having Newsmax back on the air is a victory for free speech over powerful corporations that want to put their thumbs on the scale of the national conversation,” Mr. Cruz said.

“This outcome speaks to the power of citizens and their elected representatives working to stop viewpoint discrimination. I’m grateful to my colleagues, Senators Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee, and Tom Cotton, for joining me in this fight,” he said.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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