A group of Republican senators is raising questions about why the conservative news network Newsmax was dropped by DirecTV.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), and Tom Cotton (Ark.) penned a letter to the CEO of DirecTV and the chief executive officers of its controlling shareholders, AT&T and TPG.
“We are deeply disturbed by DirecTV’s recent decision to drop the conservative news network Newsmax. This decision harms millions of Texans, South Carolinians, Utahns, and Arkansans and removes important viewing choices for millions of Americans across our Nation,” the senators wrote. “It appears that this decision may be the latest example of big business suppressing politically disfavored speech at the behest of liberal Democrats.”
The letter continued:
“We are writing to request detailed and specific information about DirecTV’s actions. Congress and the public have a right to know the extent to which DirecTV’s decision to drop Newsmax was politically motivated, including whether the company succumbed to pressured from administration officials or Democrats in Congress.”
The senators said the decision to drop Newsmax comes after what they say are “revelations of collusion between Big Tech companies and Democrat officials to label conservative speech as ‘misinformation’ and censor it.”
“The silencing of conservative speech at the request of government officials is a direct assault on free speech and a threat to democracy. Unfortunately, DirecTV has previously de-platformed another conservative news network in the wake of liberal pressure,” the letter continued.
It also noted DirecTV dropped the conservative One America News Network (OANN) in 2022.
Additionally, the senators pointed out the decisions to drop the networks come after House Democrats sent a letter in 2021 to DirecTV to ask if it planned to continue carrying Newsmax, OANN, and Fox News.
“These three networks were the three largest conservative news networks in America, and now — in less than a year — DirecTV has de-platformed two of them,” the senators said.
They argued, “Beyond the disturbing implications for free speech and democracy, DirecTV’s de-platforming of Newsmax also deprives its millions of subscribers of access to an important news source, especially those in rural areas where Internet-based streaming services are less often used.”
The senators asked DirecTV, AT&T, and TPG to answer whether they “directly or indirectly consult or engage in any communication with any federal, state, or local government officials regarding the decisions to drop Newsmax or OANN, either before or after their implementation regardless of who initiated the communication?”
They also asked for information on internal communications about Newsmax.
In a statement to The Hill, DirecTV said about its decision to drop the conservative network, “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.”
“Anyone, including our customers, can watch the network for free via NewsmaxTV.com,” the statement continued. “We continually evaluate the most relevant programming to provide our customers and expect to fill this available channel with new content.”
However, Congressional Republicans appear to be unsatisfied with the television provider’s explanation and have voiced concerns about the move.