Multichannel video programming distributor DirecTV was met with a strong, sustained response from the NRB, members of Congress, and its viewership after declining to renew its carriage agreement with NRB member media company Newsmax.
Prominent conservative voices labeled the move an attempt at viewpoint censorship, and members of Congress denounced the deplatforming as “another technique that Big Tech, big corporations are using to silence the opposition party.” In the days following the carriage lapse, seventeen lawmakers took the floor to deliver special order speeches on DirecTV’s cancellation of Newsmax. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) penned a letter to the cable provider requesting in-depth background on the decision, writing that “DirecTV’s decision follows recent revelations of collusion between Big Tech companies and Democrat officials,” and that “the silencing of conservative speech at the request of government officials is a direct assault on free speech and a threat to democracy.”
NRB deployed robust public support for Newsmax, which is both an associate NRB member and airs NRB member programs in its lineup, issuing the following statement from NRB President & CEO Troy A. Miller:
NRB was disappointed to learn of the cancellation of NRB member Newsmax from DirecTV’s satellite platform. While DirecTV has maintained that the reasons for the cancellation were financial, not ideological, the question of why low-rated, left-leaning networks like MSNBC and CNN receive retransmission fees and remain on the platform needs to be answered. Newsmax is the second cancellation of a high-profile, conservative, faith-friendly news network after OAN’s cancellation last year. DirecTV serves a sizeable subscriber base that skews conservative and religious. This viewership deserves access to diverse programming, including options aligned with their points of view. This move will only accelerate DirecTV’s subscriber erosion, which obviously fails to serve DirecTV’s business interests.
Miller joined the Steve Deace Show, 700 Club with David Brody, Focus Today with Perry Atkinson, and Rob Schmitt Tonight to discuss the issue.
“We’re asking folks to reach out and say we want Newsmax back, and we don’t really agree with this decision,” Miller told Schmitt in a primetime interview on Newsmax. “We’re also putting a lot of pressure on congressional leaders to look into this, [and] we’re asking for hearings.”
In a letter, NRB petitioned House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers to investigate the impact of 2021 communications between senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and DirecTV on the ultimate decision of DirecTV not to renew carriage agreements with Newsmax and One America News (OAN).
The letter made NRB’s position clear that “lawmakers attempting to interfere with freedom of the press, including conservative speech, by pressuring television companies is an intolerable assault on the First Amendment freedoms that all Americans hold dear, and that this association exists to defend.”
Noelle Garnier, NRB’s director of public policy and communications, echoed this message in a panel discussion on OAN’s “Weekly Briefing” on February 4.
“We can’t look at what’s going on in corporate boardrooms right now without finding lawmakers using their positions of authority to influence tech companies to censor, to blackball, and to denigrate Christian media, conservative media, and pro-life messages,” Garnier said.
Thanks to collective public response and advocacy efforts, DirecTV has signaled interest in bringing Newsmax back to the platform. NRB diligently advocates for its member organizations and responds to threats to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the free exercise of religion.