from the performative-gibberish dept
Back in January DirecTV announced it would be kicking the fantasy and conspiracy channel One America News (OAN) off of its satellite TV lineup, removing the biggest distribution avenue for the “news” channel.
Despite the endless coverage the channel gets for its baseless conspiracies, it’s a channel relatively few people actually watch. DirecTV executives simply didn’t figure the controversy to income ratio was worth it, so they simply didn’t renew OAN’s carriage agreement when the time came.
OAN, of course, quickly tried to spin itself as a victim of partisan censorship, first by attacking a Black AT&T board member in “news” coverage that pretended DirecTV’s business decision was politically and racially motivated, and then by filing a lawsuit claiming that DirecTV was leveraging its “unchecked influence” as a failing satellite TV company to stifle a “family-run business.”
In the hopes of pressuring DirecTV further, OAN appears to have enlisted the support of six GOP Attorneys General. All six, with Texas AG Ken Paxton in the lead, wrote a letter to DirecTV claiming the channel’s decision was “clearly viewpoint discrimination and an attempt to silence conservative voices.”
Undaunted, DirecTV proceeded anyway and has informed consumers they’ll be losing the channel starting this week:
DirecTV plans to drop One America News Network on Tuesday, ignoring pressure to reverse course from the conservative cable outlet and its supporters.
The satellite TV giant has been notifying customers that it will no longer carry OAN or AWE, a high-end lifestyle channel also owned by Herring Networks Inc., after April 4.
Again, not that many people watch the channel on a good day. As a struggling satellite TV provider that’s been losing subscribers for several years, DirecTV didn’t find the hassle worth it. Even if DirecTV had kicked the channel to the curb due to its viewpoints, there’s nothing illegal in that. It’s not legally or contractually obligated to carry any channels its executives don’t deem worth the hassle.
So in short, an ordinary business decision was rolled into the Trump GOP’s victimization complex and bunk narrative that they’re being somehow being “censored,” despite the fact you’re able to hear the party’s conspiracy theories everywhere, constantly, ad nauseum. Including on their own platforms and other, more popular, GOP-friendly cable “news” channels.
Much like the attacks on “big tech,” this isn’t really a debate about censorship or the contours of free speech. It’s about authoritarians who believe that private companies (cable and big tech alike) should be mandated to carry the kind of race-baiting, base-agitating propaganda authoritarians resort to when they know shifting demographics and reality aren’t working in their favor.