DirecTV strikes deal to bring back Newsmax

DirecTV and Newsmax have reached a new multiyear deal that will bring the conservative channel back to some 13 million customers this week.

The deal marks the end of a lengthy and bitter public relations battle between the two companies that hinged on carrier fees, with Newsmax’s leadership repeatedly accusing the cable provider of political bias.

“Newsmax recognizes and appreciates that DirecTV clearly supports diverse voices, including conservative ones,” Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy said in a statement celebrating the agreement. “As a standalone company, DirecTV helped give Newsmax its start nearly a decade ago as it continues to do with upcoming news networks, which is why we are pleased to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that will deliver our network to DirecTV, DirecTV STREAM and U-verse customers over the next several years.”

The initial disagreement between the two companies hinged on carrier fees, which under its previous deal dictated DirecTV would pay Newsmax nothing to carry the conservative channel. DirecTV said on Wednesday its new deal with Newsmax would come at no additional cost to its subscribers, suggesting Newsmax did not have its demand on rate increases met, though terms of the deal were not disclosed by either side.

Still, Ruddy and top Newsmax hosts accused the cable provider of political censorship, sparking a flood of condemnation from House Republicans.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at one point earlier this year suggested he wouldn’t rule out holding congressional hearings on DirecTV’s decision to drop Newsmax, which has an audience share that is dwarfed by other leading cable news channels.

In a statement on Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — who had written to DirecTV requesting an explanation for dropping Newsmax, suggesting political bias was a factor — applauded the two sides working out a deal.

“Having Newsmax back on the air is a victory for free speech over powerful corporations that want to put their thumbs on the scale of the national conversation,” Cruz said. “This outcome speaks to the power of citizens and their elected representatives working to stop viewpoint discrimination.”

Bill Morrow, CEO of DirecTV, sought to cast the disagreement as routine in a statement on Wednesday.

“This resolution with Newsmax, resolving an all-too-common carriage dispute, underscores our dedication to delivering a wide array of programming and perspectives to our customers,” Morrow wrote.

“Through our persistent negotiations, we reached a resolution under mutually-agreeable business terms allowing us to deliver the conservative news network at the right value – a reflection of the free market at work,” he added.

Updated: 12:18 p.m.

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