Newsmax Returns to DirecTV, Resolving Months-Long Dispute

While DirecTV cited disagreement over carriage fees, the conservative network accused the provider of “political discrimination and censorship”

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Newsmax is set to return to DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and U-verse on Thursday at no additional cost to customers after the conservative network and pay TV provider reached a multi-year distribution deal, resolving a months-long dispute over carriage fees.

“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,”  DirecTV CEO Bill Morrow said in a statement.

The agreement comes after DirecTV dropped Newsmax in January, which its CEO Christopher Ruddy called “a blatant act of political discrimination and censorship.“ In a statement on Wednesday, Ruddy said that the channel “recognizes and appreciates that DIRECTV clearly supports diverse voices, including conservative ones.”

“As a standalone company, DIRECTV helped give 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,” he added.

Prior to DirecTV’s official decision to drop Newsmax, House Republicans sent a letter expressing their concern about the move being an “un-democratic assault on free speech” and claimed the company was “actively working to limit conservative viewpoints on its system.”

“It is our understanding that DirecTV — still majority-owned by AT&T and minority-owned and managed by TPG Capital — is moving to de-platform Newsmax by denying it cable fees on a fair and equitable basis,” the letter stated. “Congress intends to conduct extensive oversight on the extent to which House Democrats and officials in federal offices colluded with private companies to limit, restrict, and circumvent First Amendment rights.” 

A DirecTV spokesperson previously told TheWrap that it honored its agreement with Newsmax beyond its initial term, giving the network nationwide access to its customers with the ability to generate significant advertising revenue at no cost.

“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,” the spokesperson added at the time.

Wednesday’s agreement marks DirecTV’s latest successful resolution of a carriage dispute, which the company called “an unfortunate but increasingly frequent occurrence involving nearly every pay TV and streaming provider attempting to keep rising consumer costs in check.”

According to DirecTV, the industry has endured “no less than 140 distinct disputes pitting programmers or station groups against their primary distributors” over the past five years alone.

“While some resolve in as little as a few hours to days or weeks, others last several months to more than a year,” the company added. “During that same timeframe, 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.”

In addition to Newsmax, DirecTV’s diversified news lineup includes six 24/7 news networks – CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Newsmax, NewsNation and The First.