Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) said that Congress should investigate AT&T and DirecTV for their decision to drop Newsmax and, last year, One America News Network.
“I think there should be no ideological litmus test when you have these big companies that have the decision to make or break a news network, or any type of network,” DeSantis said. “They will give different rationales for why they don’t want to do it, but the reality is they have so much other content that is very lightly viewed, and they keep that on, and it seems it is the One America News and the Newsmax that are being targeted. So I think it does warrant an investigation.”
His comments at a press conference on Tuesday are not much of a surprise, as the potential 2024 presidential contender has seized on other instances of alleged corporate bias. In the case of The Walt Disney Co., cruise ship lines and social media companies, DeSantis has championed efforts to punish or rein in the private sector, diverting from the traditional GOP hands off approach to business.
DeSantis told reporters that Congress needs “to ensure that there’s not intellectual discrimination when it comes to what people are able to view.”
DirecTV dropped Newsmax last week, contending that the conservative channel was demanding “significant fees” at a time when it was already available for free on streaming platforms. DirecTV then announced that it was adding The First, another conservative channel featuring hosts like Bill O’Reilly and Dana Loesch.
Newsmax, though, says that it free streaming channel will end later this year and that DirecTV was adding a little known channel in place of an established brand. “DirecTV believes Newsmax should receive ZERO cable fees even though it is the fourth-highest-rated cable news channel in the nation, according to Nielsen,” the company said. Some lawmakers have called for congressional hearings.
Cable and satellite distributors must comply with program carriage rules, but they have to do with preventing a distributor from favoring channels it owns over ones it does not. The industry likely would challenge any kind of content regulation as an infringement of their First Amendment rights.
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