DirecTV drops One America News channel

Satellite TV giant DirecTV is no longer carrying conservative cable channel One America News Network, after earlier indications that it would not renew a distribution agreement.

OAN, owned by Herring Networks, was dropped by DirecTV starting today, April 5, along with Herring-owned lifestyle channel AWE – though the satellite provider is facing continued pushback from the 24-hour channel.

“In January we informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we did not plan to enter into a new contract when the agreement expired,” a DirecTV spokesperson told Fierce.

Bloomberg first reported the news.

OAN has faced criticism for spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic and 2020 election. OAN’s owner Herring and conservative network Newsmax last year were sued by electronics equipment manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion in defamation damages, accusing OAN of a deliberate disinformation campaign for profit.

DirecTV, now a joint venture of AT&T and private equity firm TPG, in March started officially letting customers know about changes and where else they could find OAN programming, as the website states that OAN wouldn’t be available after April 4. DirecTV’s website notes that OAN content is still accessible directly through the channel’s website and mobile app, while OAN’s website says it can also be found on smaller distributors including Verizon Fios, CenturyLink Prism, GCI and others.

DirecTV started carrying OAN in 2017, after an earlier lawsuit brought on by Herring was settled and resulted in a 5-year affiliation agreement for DirecTV to carry the channel. As early as 2014 there had apparently been plans to carry the channel on AT&T’s U-Verse, which didn’t come to fruition.

The carriage change also comes after an investigative Reuters report in October 2021 said a review of court records based on statements by Herring found that AT&T played a role in funding OAN and its inspiration to launch in 2013 as executives wanted another conservative news network to challenge Fox.

After the Reuters story published last year, AT&T denied involvement saying it “never had a financial interest in OAN's success and does not 'fund' OAN.”

As the Bloomberg report noted, OAN and its supporters have been putting pressure on DirecTV to continue carrying the channel, filing a March 7 lawsuit brought on by Herring Networks against AT&T and DirecTV. The suit alleges breach of contracts and claims wrongdoings were part of coordinated political scheme, with Herring saying damages caused by DirecTV’s non-renewal would result in damages to the business exceeding $1 billion.

In the lawsuit, Herring asserts that AT&T and DirecTV “have bowed to political pressure and have put their unlawful interests and the unlawful personal, political, and financial interests of their management ahead of contractual and legal obligations.”

It went on to say that AT&T data shows OAN is a top performing network as of the third quarter of 2021, ranking number 24, excluding broadcast, out of more than 300 channels, though did not say what metrics the rankings are based on.

As of last year, “a substantial amount of OAN’s revenue came from the Affiliation Agreement” with DirecTV, according to the Herring suit, which also stated that “the economic consequences of losing carriage with DIRECTV could be devastating to OAN.”

In response to the lawsuit, a DirecTV spokesperson stated: “These claims are baseless, and we are confident that we have fully complied with both the law and our agreement.”

As DirecTV looked at contract renewal of OAN as it does for all agreements, it considers the changing industry dynamics, such as pay TV market on a declining trend for several years, and programming costs increasing with costs back to distributors also growing, according to a DirecTV spokesperson.

Competition is also heating up from virtual MVPD options, such as the Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TVs, among several others. And there are now more ways to access content compared to 2017, as some programming content creators are going direct to consumer via channel apps, thanks to a robust home internet ecosystem, the spokesperson continued.

In March DirecTV said it would start offering subscription service Fox Nation as a premium add-on, as it still looks to offer viewers conservative-focused content.