DirecTV announced Friday evening that it will sever ties with One America News later this year, pulling the conservative news channel from millions of homes and dealing a significant blow to the pro-Trump network.
“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” a DirecTV spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Bloomberg News was the first to report the decision.
Neither Herring Sr. nor officials with OAN immediately responded to requests for comment early Saturday.
The move figures to be a big financial loss for the fringe network. An OAN accountant reported in 2020 that 90 percent of the channel’s revenue in the previous year stemmed from subscriber fees paid by DirecTV and other AT&T-owned platforms, according to Reuters. AT&T has been repeatedly criticized for playing a foundational role in building up OAN into a Trump-friendly alternative to Fox News. Though DirecTV is now its own company, AT&T owns 70 percent of the satellite provider.
Without the estimated tens of millions of dollars in revenue from AT&T, an OAN accountant said in sworn testimony that the network’s value “would be zero,” reported Reuters.
An AT&T spokesman reached by The Post didn’t comment directly on DirecTV’s decision, but refuted the notion the company played a role in OAN’s development. The representative also noted that DirecTV consented to carrying the channel four years ago as part of the settlement from OAN’s lawsuit against AT&T.
It remains unclear what the current proportion of OAN’s revenue comes from DirecTV or how many households it will reach without the satellite provider. OAN’s website shows few national carriers, with Verizon Fios being the most prominent of the group.
The announcement comes as media and technology companies are reckoning with the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories to millions in the United States and abroad.
OAN was recently sued for defamation by two poll workers in Georgia who accuse the far-right network of knowingly spreading misinformation about them, including falsehoods that they logged illegal ballots for Joe Biden in the 2020 election. The December lawsuit names Herring Sr., president Charles Herring and chief White House correspondent Chanel Rion, as well as Rudolph W. Giuliani, who served as a personal lawyer to Donald Trump. Attorneys for Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss say the women “have become objects of vitriol, threats, and harassment … because of a campaign of malicious lies,” according to the lawsuit.
Since its inception in 2013, OAN has been a sympathetic voice to Trump, regularly broadcasting his rallies and speeches without interruption. When Trump took office in 2017, Herring Sr. directed OAN to not only push Trump’s candidacy but also steer away from his early troubles in office. Herring Sr. also urged the network to scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories and minimize coverage of Russian aggression, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors who spoke to The Post in 2017, as well as internal emails from Herring Sr. and his top news executives.
The network has promoted misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic. YouTube suspended OAN for a week in 2020 for violating its policy against misinformation related to the pandemic and temporarily stripped the channel of its ability to make money from other videos. The company said at the time that OAN violated its policy against portraying a coronavirus remedy as a cure for the virus.
After Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election, the network continued to air false claims of election fraud from Trump and his allies. The baseless claims have been repeatedly defeated in courts nationwide. When a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, OAN’s brass allegedly told employees to not describe the event as a riot or identify the people involved as Trump supporters, wrote The Post’s Margaret Sullivan.
The network has recently faced multiple lawsuits stemming from the election. In August, Dominion Voting Systems filed lawsuits targeting OAN and Newsmax, claiming the conservative networks defamed the voting technology company by spreading and endorsing false reports that it helped steal the 2020 election from Trump. Each of those complaints seeks about $1.7 billion in damages.
The voting technology firm Smartmatic filed similar lawsuits against OAN’s parent company and Newsmax in November. Smartmatic’s suit against Herring Networks claims that the network, unlike Newsmax and Fox News, “doubled down” on its unsubstantiated allegations of fraud after Smartmatic demanded that it retract those allegations, and kept at it even after Biden took office as president. OAN aired documentaries produced by Mike Lindell, a fervent Trump supporter and the founder and chief executive of MyPillow, claiming without evidence that the election was manipulated with the help of Smartmatic voting technology, the complaint states.
Some conservatives angered by the news called for people to boycott DirecTV. Critics of OAN, meanwhile, celebrated the decision.
“The free market in action,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) tweeted.
Marc Fisher and Annabelle Timsit contributed to this report.