AT&T’s DirecTV will drop One America News (OAN) in a move that raises questions about OAN’s future.
Court findings in October revealed that 90% of OAN’s revenue comes from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including DirecTV. So AT&T, CNN’s parent company, has funded OAN, a pro-Trump news network, almost entirely alone.
Since the findings, activist groups have pressured AT&T to drop OAN and essentially sink the network’s business model. As we predicted it would at the time, AT&T has willingly succumbed to that pressure.
“We informed Herring Network, [OAN’s owner], 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 Friday.
Because no other major U.S. cable provider carries OAN, the network’s future as a linear channel is uncertain. As a result, OAN may now have to survive as a direct-to-consumer service.
While OAN could find a strong enough niche audience to last digitally, the network’s lawyers are not confident it will. In a 2020 court proceeding, an OAN lawyer claimed that “if Herring Networks, for instance, was to lose or not be renewed on DirecTV, the company would go out of business tomorrow.”
Former President Donald Trump claimed that DirecTV targeted OAN because of its politics and says conservatives should now boycott AT&T. “Maybe what we should do is not use AT&T,” Trump said over the weekend.
OAN is certainly a news network biased in favor of Trump. However, all cable news networks have a bent. OAN is no more conspiratorial than MSNBC’s Joy Reid. Yet Comcast has mainstreamed Reid. The difference is that groups like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) haven’t pressured Comcast to sever ties with Reid.
Meanwhile, NAACP President Derrick Johnson has called DirecTV’s decision to cancel OAN a “victory for us and the future of democracy.”
Fear drives decision-making. The activists have told AT&T that a far-Right news network can’t exist anymore. So it likely won’t. That’s how this works. If you plan to be extreme politically, make sure you are extreme in the right…er, Left direction.
AT&T’s contract with Herring Networks expires in April.