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DirecTV told Senate Republicans Thursday that Newsmax continues to lie about the network’s ratings as part of its political pressure campaign to force the pay-TV provider to hand out millions of dollars to the pro-Trump channel.

In addition to making “misleading” claims about its viewership, the satellite provider also said Newsmax spreads false information about the royalties DirecTV pays to other channels, noting that many networks that Newsmax claims are paid by the company do not receive transmission royalties.

DirecTV also revealed that Newsmax actually once paid the cable provider’s fees to carry its channel and was dropped from the service for eight months in 2016 while trying to negotiate a new deal. However, as DirecTV noted, they are “not aware of any congressman or conservative activist at this time who has accused DIRECTV of censoring Newsmax or deplatforming” during that specific contract dispute.

DirecTV, which is mostly owned by telecom giant AT&T, pulled Newsmax out of service in late January over a standard business dispute over increased tariffs. Newsmax, meanwhile, has accused the satellite operator of “political discrimination” and “silenced” conservative voices by “de-platforming” the network. The station also claims that DirecTV pays “22 liberal news channels,” many of which have lower ratings than Newsmax, while refusing to agree to the right-wing station’s modest fee demand.

Even before Newsmax officially shut down, the network and its CEO, Chris Ruddy, had recruited dozens of Republicans to put political pressure on the provider and its parent company to agree to Newsmax’s demands. Citing a February 2021 letter from some House Democrats asking cable operators if they wanted to “continue to carry Fox News, Newsmax and OANN” after the 2020 election conspiracies, Republicans and Newsmax have indicated that DirecTV is working with Democrats and Government officials are collaborating to “censor” right-wing content. (DirecTV shut down far-right broadcaster OAN last year, reinforcing Conservative censorship allegations.)

Amid Newsmax’s myriad on-air segments and online posts urging viewers to cancel DirecTV and AT&T products, many of which are GOP lawmakers, a group of four Republican senators — including Sens. Ted Cruz ( R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). ) — sent DirecTV a letter last month demanding “detailed and specific information” about the company’s activities. The senators’ request, for the most part, echoed many of the allegations and complaints made by Newsmax, claiming “it appears this decision may be the latest example of big business suppressing politically unfavorable speech at the behest of the Liberal Democrats.”

While DirecTV General Counsel Michael Hartman responded to the letter last month, telling senators that Newsmax was making “false claims” about other stations’ carriage fees and ratings, he also promised to provide a more detailed answer to questions from the to give to the legislature. (For his part, Cruz told Newsmax this week that DirecTV’s responses to its committee were “inadequate.”)

In a message sent Thursday, Hartman wrote that DirecTV is currently operating in “a very difficult business environment” with subscribers increasingly abandoning pay-TV services. Hartman added that DirecTV “needs to be extremely cautious about increasing the cost of its service,” Hartman said that Newsmax is trying to “use” those negotiations to “advance its efforts to become a subscription-only channel.” .

Noting that “not a single major pay-TV provider pays Newsmax,” Hartman explained that DirecTV understands that the channel has obligations from other providers to receive royalties “if and when” Newsmax stops providing free access to its Allow channel through other streaming services platforms. (DirecTV has claimed that the crux of its dispute is that Newsmax wants to be paid for content it offers for free elsewhere, while Newsmax insists on scrapping that option soon.)

“We are also aware that these obligations are subject to ‘most favored nation’ clauses, which ensure that these operators do not pay until and until DIRECTV starts paying, at a rate no higher than DIRECTV’s ‘ added Hartman. “Therefore, the ‘commitments’ that Newsmax allegedly has appear to come with significant strings attached.”

While he called Newsmax “disingenuous” for claiming it was being “deplatformed” by DirecTV, Hartman also claimed that there was never any conservative outrage when Newsmax was taken offline earlier in 2016. And he also revealed that Newsmax used to pay DirecTV to air his channel.

“Starting in 2014, Newsmax actually paid DIRECTV a fee to broadcast its channel,” he said. “As that agreement neared completion in August 2016, Newsmax requested that the terms of the agreement be changed and that no fee be paid. The parties were unable to reach an agreement and DIRECTV was subsequently banned from carrying Newsmax on its platform. Newsmax stayed away from DIRECTV for about eight months – until June 2017. After that, Newsmax and DIRECTV finally entered into the agreement, which recently expired.”

Hartman continued, “Remarkably, at this time, we are not aware of any congressman or conservative activist who has accused DIRECTV of censoring or deplatforming Newsmax. It was clearly understood then as what it is today: a business negotiation. Except for now, Newsmax is trying to introduce an unfounded political argument into a business dispute.”

Hartman also disputed Newsmax’s claim that it tops the ratings of most other channels that DirecTV airs and pays for, noting that the network hacks charts “which are riddled with inaccuracies” and which “comparisons are misleading.” (DirecTV has provided its own charts which appear to refute Newsmax’s claims.)

“The industry norm is to use either Nielsen’s 24-hour all-day ratings or Nielsen’s prime-time (8:00-11:00 p.m.) ratings,” Hartman wrote. “Newsmax ranks fourth from the bottom in the 24 hour ratings (excluding 6 for which there are no ratings) and Newsmax is ranked 22nd out of 24 in the ‘Major Networks’ against which it compares itself .”

Hartman also said that despite Newsmax’s claims about the fees DirecTV pays to other channels, which come from a market research firm that doesn’t have direct access to DirecTV’s data, about a third of the channels broadcast on the service don’t receive royalties .

“In some cases they are significantly inaccurate,” the general counsel said. “For example, Newsmax’s chart listing fees for a channel are ten times higher than the fees paid by DIRECTV. It’s worth noting that we pay zero transmission fees to four channels that surpass Newsmax in average viewership and Nielsen average viewership rankings, and two other channels that have higher rankings than Newsmax pay less transmission fees than Newsmax’s proposed fee. In fact, we don’t pay transmission fees for 85 of the 251 national cable channels we carry.”

After reiterating that no Democrat had made “any threats” against DirecTV during the negotiations, and no shareholder had “expressed animus toward DIRECTV about Newsmax’s political leanings,” Hartman noted that it was actually Newsmax that took on involved in political interference.

“We are very concerned that Newsmax has joined this campaign to turn an economic dispute into a bogus censorship and political deplatforming issue,” he said. “It degrades both our politics and our markets.”

Noting that DirecTV’s recent agreement to air right-wing channel The First contradicts allegations that the company discriminates against conservative speech, Hartman lamented Newsmax’s “misinformation campaign” targeting members of Congress and DirecTV customers.

“If Newsmax wants to know who is improperly incorporating political considerations into commercial decisions, it should look in the mirror,” Hartman concluded. “We would like to reassure you that DIRECTV would like to offer Newsmax as part of our service and we hope to be able to reach an agreement on this soon.”

A Newsmax representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment. DirecTV is suing Newsmax for “misleading” ratings and fee claims

DirecTV is suing Newsmax for “misleading” ratings and fee claims – World Time Todays

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