One America News Network gets the shoe from its largest distributor.
DirecTV plans to drop mega-channel MAGA as well as its brother AWE (“Wealth of Entertainment”), both owned by Herring Networks, when OAN’s current contract with the satellite provider expires in April, the company said, noting that Herring has been notified of the decision. Bloomberg first reported the news.
“We have informed Herring Networks that after a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our existing agreement expires,” a DirecTV spokesperson said in a statement.
Subscribers will no longer find OAN on their channel list coming in early April, and they won’t be able to watch it via any of the other major US cable providers, who don’t carry it. AT&T, one of DirecTV’s parent companies, was instrumental in creating OANN, according to an extensive Reuters report last year.
The DirecTV decision poses an existential threat to the right-wing cable channel. An OAN accountant under oath in 2019 testified that the value of OAN without a contract with DirecTV “will be zero”. A source familiar with the network told The Daily Beast that OAN has struggled to fully staff its operations in recent months.
OAN forced itself into DirecTV via a lawsuit in 2017, which obligated the satellite company to implement its programming as part of a settlement. Contracts between channels and cable providers typically last three to five years, and competition between TV providers has intensified over the past five years with the proliferation of streaming services. Customers chose to pay for a few select services instead of a giant cable package. Likewise OAN launched its own streaming app. Although DirecTV is by far the largest means of watching in the network, it is also available via lesser known providers such as Verizon ViOS and KlowdTV.com, per their website.
Since its entry into the cable, OAN has risen to prominence with pro-Donald Trump loyalty and support from the former president. She even scored a spot in her bragged White House briefing room, but lost it after her reporter ignored coronavirus restrictions. His most notable moment came when Trump ridiculed Fox News for not getting close enough to his party line and instead turned to OAN.
OAN has also generated more controversy in its short rise than other news outlets in its lifetime. The network is currently suing a $1 billion defamation lawsuit that Dominion Voting Systems filed in August. A host called for the mass execution of thousands of Americans last year over bogus allegations of election fraud pushed by Trump and his allies. OAN hosts have promoted bizarre and labyrinthine conspiracy theories in support of Trump’s “Big Lie” about his 2020 election victory and about the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, The Daily Beast also revealed that the network had hired a journalist on the Kremlin payroll.
The network has been hatching plans to expand recently, including hopes for a Spanish language channel. Such a radical cut in his DirecTV distribution has the potential to shatter those dreams.
Neither OAN nor Charles Herring, president of Herring Networks, immediately responded to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment Friday night.
Zachary Petrizzo and Justin Paragona contributed to the report.