Newsmax Gets Big Win, But Threat of Liberal Censorship Looms Large

Posted on Tuesday, April 4, 2023
by Andrew Abbott

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott

Late last month, the Newsmax television network announced it had reached an agreement with DirecTV and will return to the airwaves soon, marking the end of an acrimonious two months in which the satellite broadcaster faced criticism over what some were calling censorship of conservative voices. But even in light of this apparently positive development, the threat of liberal censorship in media is only continuing to grow.

Newsmax was removed from DirecTV on January 25 of this year following weeks of stalled negotiations. From the onset of the removal, DirecTV consistently asserted that there was no political motivation for any of its actions. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Rob Thun, chief content officer for TV for DirecTV, said, “It’s a free market. Our decision is based on economics, not political ideology.”

However, the details of the short-lived breakup between Newsmax and DirecTV call that assertion into question.

DirecTV has carried Newsmax since 2014. Throughout this period, DirecTV never actually compensated Newsmax for hosting their content – the channel was airing for free.

This is not uncommon for newly formed and smaller channels. Prominent legacy networks like CNN and MSNBC are paid a “carriage” fee for letting cable providers carry their content. Newsmax argued that it had grown its viewership and network by a significant enough margin to be compensated $1 per subscriber.

According to Nielsen ratings, Newsmax averages 184,000 viewers during prime-time hours. While this is significantly lower than the 2.4 million viewers Fox News draws or the 735,000 that CNN draws, Newsmax has had several programs beat CNN in overall ratings and key demographics.

Additionally, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy points out that DirecTV provides carriage fees to 23 liberal-leaning channels, many of which have as many or even far fewer viewers than Newsmax.

For example, in 2022, CNBC averaged 209,000 prime-time viewers, and Fox Business averaged 224,000 viewers. While Bloomberg does not reveal its ratings, they are known to be significantly lower than Newsmax.

Despite this, all of these networks enjoy a carriage fee.

DirecTV defenders have argued that networks like CNBC and Bloomberg have more established brands than Newsmax. Additionally, NBCUniversal owns CNBC, which sells its channels as one package, giving them more leverage to demand carriage fees.

Yet the media’s ongoing history of de-platforming conservative-oriented networks, apps, and communities makes it difficult not to see a political dimension to DirecTV targeting Newsmax.

The decision to remove Newsmax comes after DirecTV de-platformed One America News Network amid heavy protests from liberals claiming that the network was too favorable to former president Donald Trump. DirecTV ultimately removed the channel – again citing its “low ratings” as the rationale. Most other cable providers followed suit.

Republican leaders have blasted the moves as blatant censorship of conservatives. In a statement, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called DirecTV’s decision “a slap in the face to the voters who pay the network’s bills.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy also criticized DirecTV, hinting that the company could face a congressional hearing over the decision.

In a February letter to DirecTV executives, four Republican Senators asked the company to preserve records related to their removal of Newsmax. “We are deeply disturbed by DirecTV’s recent decision to drop the conservative news network Newsmax,” they wrote.

Amid this mounting pressure, DirecTV reversed course and announced a deal with Newsmax on March 22.

But despite this victory for conservatives, DirecTV’s actions are part of an alarming broader censorship campaign by the left. Even conservative books are routinely removed from Amazon’s digital shelves and hidden by search engines.

On the digital front, liberals successfully pressured tech giants into deplatforming the conservative social media app Parler after January 6, 2021. The app was soon removed from the Amazon, Apple, and Google stores, making it all but impossible to use.

The push to censure conservative platforms is not new, and stretches all the way back to the early days of talk radio. Liberals spent years attempting to manipulate federal law to silence talk radio networks once personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham began rising to prominence.

Newsmax may have won this battle, but the decades-old liberal war against conservative voices shows no sign of relenting any time soon.

Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.

We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

The AMAC Action Logo

Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.

Donate Now