The recent de-platforming of Newsmax by AT&T’s DirecTV is causing concern among Republicans in the House of Representatives. Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) said during an appearance on the Tuesday broadcast of Newsmax’s “Spicer & Co.” that he and many of his fellow Republicans are taking the matter “very seriously” and that they “are going to fight like hell” to investigate the move.
The major satellite television service dropped Newsmax’s signal on January 24, immediately blocking the network from over 13 million of its customers. In addition, customers receiving DirecTV Stream and U-Verse services also lost Newsmax.
Despite Newsmax being one of the top 20 cable news channels, watched by 25 million Americans, DirecTV claimed it was a “cost-cutting” measure. DirecTV continues to carry at least 22 news channels that are liberal-leaning. All of them are paid fees, and most have lower ratings than Newsmax.
Newsmax has denied allegations by AT&T that it was seeking “excessive fees” that would cost DirectTV “tens of millions” of dollars. Instead, the outlet said it was seeking fees of $1 per subscriber annually, adding that it is among the lowest price sought by any channel and amounts to only a fraction of the “tens of millions” claimed by AT&T.
The removal of Newsmax marks the second time in the last year that AT&T has dropped a conservative news channel, as it also de-platformed OAN in April 2022.
Garcia emphasized the importance of the First Amendment in America and stated that Republicans in the House will investigate AT&T’s motives, adding that “when you de-platform someone who you disagree with, it eventually does boomerang with you and these same entities will not like you eventually and do the same to you if you don’t protect that First Amendment.”
Garcia said he wants to know if AT&T was genuinely making a business decision or if it was “strictly a political vendetta against a news outlet that is giving a voice, not only to conservatives but also to Americans who are looking and are thirsty for objective news sources.”
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY) expressed his willingness to take action against the recent censorship of Newsmax by AT&T DirecTV. The Kentucky Republican said his committee is concerned about the federal government’s role in suppressing the Hunter Biden abandoned laptop story and that they are hearing from constituents who had DirecTV.
Comer added that he is publicly encouraging executives at DirecTV to resolve the issue before Congress has to get involved.
AT&T DirecTV's deplatforming of NEWSMAX is "outrageous" and "not good for free speech in America," according to former Sen. Joe Lieberman. https://t.co/PU0ic6hzRY
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) February 8, 2023
Former Democratic turned independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has also spoken out about the de-platforming, calling it “outrageous” and “not good for free speech in America.” Lieberman, who will be signing a letter of support for Newsmax’s return to DirecTV, said the move looks like “ideological censorship by DirecTV and that’s just plain un-American.”