The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

After political fury, Newsmax will return to DirecTV

(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)
3 min

Satellite broadcaster DirecTV agreed to restore the conservative channel Newsmax to its lineup, ending a dispute between the two parties that became political fodder in Washington.

DirecTV dropped Newsmax in January over what the broadcast company described as strictly a business matter — disagreement over Newsmax’s demand that it receive fees for being aired by DirecTV, as other channels typically are.

But the issue quickly became political; several dozen House Republicans signed a letter suggesting that DirecTV was shutting down a conservative voice and demanded that it be restored.

Some Republicans who rely on Newsmax for interviews and favorable television exposure called for the House to investigate the channel’s “deplatforming” by DirecTV and alleged censoring of conservative voices. DirecTV dropped another right-wing channel, One America News, in 2022, citing low ratings.

Based in El Segundo, Calif., DirectTV said Wednesday that it has reached “a mutually beneficial business agreement” with Newsmax to renew distribution of the channel on its satellite and streaming service.

“Our successful negotiation with Newsmax was based on economics and protecting our customers from higher costs — not politics or ideology,” the company said in a statement.

In a statement, Newsmax founder and CEO Christopher Ruddy commended DirecTV, saying it “clearly supports diverse voices, including conservative ones.”

DirecTV, which reaches about 13 million subscribers, did not release terms of the multiyear agreement but said its programming would return Thursday without additional cost to customers.

Newsmax, based in Boca Raton, Fla., is carried by some cable providers, reaching around 50 million households, and it can be accessed via an online stream. But distribution by DirecTV is important, because it gives the network another broad platform in which to sell advertising.

DirecTV had said in its negotiations with Newsmax that it was willing to continue carrying the channel without paying a cash fee for it. It cited the continuing erosion in its business because of the popularity of streaming services; many cable and satellite customers have dropped their multichannel subscriptions, turning to streaming instead.

Newsmax, however, held out for compensation, arguing that other channels receive it.

Launched in 2014 by Ruddy, Newsmax has often veered to the right of Fox News in its coverage and commentary. It employs several hosts who became well-known on Fox, including commentator Eric Bolling. Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump’s former press secretary, hosts a daily show.

Its ratings spiked at the end of 2020, after Trump expressed his dismay with Fox News’s coverage of his false claims that the presidential election was stolen. Newsmax continued to emphasize Trump’s narrative, winning disaffected Fox viewers.

Like Fox, Newsmax is being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems, a company that Trump’s aides claimed was behind efforts to “steal” votes from the former president.

After its brief post-election surge in popularity, Newsmax’s viewership began to wane as President Biden assumed office. It averaged 184,000 viewers during prime-time hours, according to Nielsen figures, ranking it far behind Fox (2.4 million), MSNBC (1.2 million) and CNN (735,000).

This article has been updated.


A previous version of this article gave the incorrect year for when DirecTV dropped One America News. It was 2022, not 2021. This version has been corrected.