McCarthy won’t rule out hearings on DirecTV dropping Newsmax

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Greg Nash
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) speaks to reporters following a meeting with President Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, February 1, 2023.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is supportive of congressional hearings on DirecTV’s recent decision to drop conservative cable channel Newsmax.

“You know I had discussions with a couple members now because it’s very concerning to me,” McCarthy said during a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday. “Now, Newsmax isn’t the first one, OAN [One America News] as well. And I think Americans should be able to have a choice in the news they are able to get.”

McCarthy added that he would “hate to see somebody being kicked off simply because they provide something conservative, so I think it is a place that we should look at.”

DirecTV dropped Newsmax last week following a dispute between the two companies over carrier fees, which the cable provider did not pay Newsmax under its previous agreement.

DirecTV pays carrier fees to larger, more widely watched cable news channels like Fox News, CNN and MSNBC in order to broadcast those and other networks. DirecTV has argued it would have to pass increased carrier fees onto its consumer base, something cable providers are hesitant to do with more Americans cutting cable each year.

Still, leading Republicans from former President Trump to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have blasted DirecTV’s move, arguing the decision is based in political bias against conservatives in media and technology companies. Much of the content on Newsmax is aggressively supportive of Trump and other leading GOP politicians.

On Wednesday, The Hill reported that a group of leading GOP senators would send a letter to DirecTV’s leadership and AT&T, which owns a majority equity stake in DirecTV, requesting information from the company surrounding the decision to drop Newsmax and One America News, another less-watched, pro-Trump network.

In a statement to The Hill, a representative for Newsmax said the network is “pleased the Speaker wants hearings because ATT’s DirecTV de-platformed Newsmax, the second conservative channel in a year, as they demanded we receive zero fees while paying over a dozen liberal channels, many with low ratings.”

A group of several dozen House lawmakers sent a similar letter to the cable provider expressing outrage over the move days earlier.

“We take the concerns raised by these elected officials seriously, and in our response to the letter we plan to detail the facts behind our business decision being based on financial terms and not ideology,” a DirecTV spokesperson told The Hill of the pushback the company has received from lawmakers this week. “We continue to offer our customers a balanced mix of 24-hour news channels as part of a diversified programming lineup.”

Updated: Feb. 3 at 9:51 a.m.

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