Following accusations of anti-conservative bias and threats of hearings after it dropped conservative network Newsmax this week, DirecTV has announced it will “very soon” add conservative opinion network The First to its DirecTV satellite, DirecTV Stream and U-verse services, followed by DirecTV Everywhere websites and apps.
The First, initially launched on Paramount's Pluto TV in October 2019 and up to now available only through streaming, currently features four main daily programs hosted by
conservative pundits: "The Dana Show," hosted by Dana Loesch, in the afternoon, and primetime series "The Liz Wheeler Show”, "No Spin News with Bill O'Reilly," and "I'm Right
with Jesse Kelly."
DirecTV cited Newsmax’s new demand for carriage fees as its reason for declining to renew its contract with the network, saying this would force DirecTV to increase subscriber fees. DirecTV had cited the same reasons for ending its relationship with far-right network One America News Network (OAN) last year.
Both of those networks (and Fox News) have been sued by voting machine companies charging that they intentionally broadcast damaging lies about voter fraud, and both have been dropped by a number of other distributors in recent times. DirecTV was OAN's biggest distributor, and Newsmax has been losing pay-TV operators for some time.
Republicans also accused DirecTV of anti-conservative bias after the OAN decision, but they were not the dominant party in the House at the time. With the current divisive climate, publishers and distributors are more concerned than ever about alienating one or another viewer segment, and that fear might give Newsmax some renewed leverage with operators. However, a court just ruled against OAN by upholding DirecTV's right to drop the network when their contract expired.
DirecTV’s The First announcement made no mention of the Newsmax controversy, but stressed that the network will be accessible at no extra charge to its services’ subscribers, and will also remain free on TheFirstTV.com/watch and through various streaming providers.
"DirecTV values different viewpoints and perspectives and will always work to preserve expansive choice among a wide variety of entertainment and information services to appeal to the unique tastes and interests of our diverse customer base," DirecTV Chief Content Officer Rob Thun stated in the release. "As we've successfully done with other emerging channels, we look forward to helping The First continue to expand its audience reach, while constantly ensuring that our customers receive a strong value."
DirecTV also stressed that it has for some time been broadening its offerings cost-effectively by offering discounts or deals to customers who subscribe to paid streaming services through DirecTV. The deals include a 60-day free trial to Fox Nation, and discounts on Discovery+ and Peacock Premium.