DirecTV announced Friday it plans to drop the right-wing media operation OAN (One American News Network) within months, delivering a huge setback to the network that’s been a favorite of former President Donald Trump.
The satellite TV provider notified OAN’s owner, Herring Networks Inc., that it will stop carrying the company’s two channels — OAN and lifestyle channel AWE — when their contract expires in early April, according to Bloomberg, which was the first to report the decision.
The controversial OAN, based in San Diego, relies largely on DirectTV, one of the largest pay-TV providers in America, to deliver its channels to consumers. Without DirecTV, only Verizon FiOS and some small pay-TV providers will carry OAN’s news, according to its website.
“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” DirecTV said in a statement to Bloomberg.
The company, owned by AT&T and TPG, provided no reason. But critics have repeatedly demanded that the company drop OAN because of the false information it promotes, most notably the baseless claim that the 2020 president election was somehow rigged against Trump but also several conspiracy theories and dangerous misinformation about COVID-19.
Two OAN correspondents who gushed about the widely disparaged audit of presidential votes in Maricopa County, Arizona, last year, also donated $605,000 to the vote-checking operation, records revealed. Dominion Voting Systems last year sued OAN for $1.6 billion for defamation for allegedly pushing “verifiably false yet devastating lies about Dominion.”
Media watchdog Media Matters has been campaigning for more than a year to convince OAN’s cable providers to drop the channel.
“DirecTV made the responsible decision to drop OAN. OAN is a cauldron of misinformation and extremism,” Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, said Friday in a statement provided to HuffPost.
“DirecTV made a negligent mistake in 2021 when it remained silent about how OAN’s industrial-scale attacks on the election and stoking the embers that helped fuel the Jan. 6 insurrection could impact” its contract renewal, the statement added. “OAN had almost a full unchecked year to undermine our democracy — and our country suffered for it.”
DirecTV has been “functionally propping up OAN for years. Without DirecTV, OAN would certainly not exist in its current form, and possibly not at all,” Carusone added.
He called on Verizon FiOS to now also drop OAN.
John Bergmayer, legal director of the advocacy group Public Knowledge, said late last year in a blog post that “OAN’s support for the ‘Big Lie’ that the 2020 election was stolen,” as well as for conspiracy theories and misinformation on COVID-19, “moves it from a participant in the marketplace of ideas to a peddler of toxic lies.”
OAN could not immediately be reached for comment. There was no mention of the development on its Twitter feed.
DirecTV has offered OAN programming to customers since 2017.
This story has been updated with a new comment from Media Matters.