The largest satellite provider in the United States said late Friday it would drop One America News, a move that could financially cripple the right-wing television network known for stoking 2020 election conspiracy theories.
The announcement from DirecTV, 70% owned by AT&T, comes three months after a Reuters investigation found the OAN founder said AT&T inspired him to create the network. Court testimony also showed that OAN receives almost all of its revenue from DirecTV.
The Reuters report drew 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 key source of false claims about the election and COVID vaccinations.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden said COVID conspiracy theories put lives at risk. “I have a special appeal to social media companies and the media: please address the misinformation and misinformation that appears on your broadcasts,” Biden said. “It 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 provided an important voice. “If I think I’m right, I go for it,” he said.
DirecTV, with approximately 15 million subscribers, is by far the largest operator in OAN. According to testimony from OAN’s accountant reviewed by Reuters, DirecTV provided 90% of the conservative network’s revenue.
“We have advised Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not expect to enter into a new contract upon the expiration of our current agreement,” DirecTV said in a statement.
The OAN-DirecTV contract is due to expire in the coming months. DirecTV began carrying OAN in April 2017, a deal that began shortly after OAN and AT&T settled a lawsuit over alleged oral promises during negotiations.
On Twitter, some conservatives expressed outrage that DirecTV and AT&T planned to drop OAN. “Corporate media is crushing what little dissent is left,” tweeted former Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs.
The pro-Trump right, however, has powerful outlets on television and online, including Fox News, the conservative cable outlet founded by Rupert Murdoch.
The Liberals applauded the news. NAACP President Derrick Johnson called it “a victory for us and for the future of democracy.” In a statement, Johnson added, “At a time when we see our rights violated, OAN seeks only to create further division…We must continually choose truth over lies and common sense over hysteria.”
The news also follows a lawsuit filed on December 23 by two Georgian election officials who accused OAN and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of spreading false allegations of voter fraud against them in the aftermath of the election. 2020 presidential election. The allegations were refuted by state authorities. OAN denied doing anything wrong.
DirecTV has not explained why it plans to drop OAN. Earlier, an AT&T spokesperson said the company carries “numerous news channels that offer viewpoints across the political spectrum.”
The Reuters investigative report in October cited affidavits in which the OAN founder and his son testified that inspiration for the conservative network came from AT&T executives.
“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” the elder Herring said during a 2019 deposition. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others from the other side. When they said that, I jumped on it and built one.
During a court proceeding in 2020, a transcript shows an OAN lawyer told the court: “If Herring Networks, for example, were to lose or not renew on DirecTV, the company would go bankrupt tomorrow .”
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