If you can even believe it, there’s still a potential — and we’d argue, probable — resolution to the ugliest carriage deal in recent memory.
Some quick background: After failing to come to terms on a new carriage deal, DirecTV and Newsmax TV parted ways in late January. DirecTV, one of the first pay-TV services to carry Newsmax when it launched nearly a decade ago, brought in a new right-leaning cable-news channel, The First, in its place.
Negotiations between DirecTV and Newsmax continued, the dispute has devolved into accusations about greed, playing politics, and even antisemitism. Like we said, it’s bad.
But, incredibly, it is still resolvable. DirecTV has maintained its preference is to have Newsmax TV back. And on Friday, as a portion of a statement shared with IndieWire, Newsmax said: “We are pleased that DirecTV is open to bringing Newsmax back on. We hope both parties can come to a mutually agreeable solution to have that happen.”
In the interim, it’s been really ugly — especially when you consider that the bones of this dispute aren’t anything exciting. It’s the sort of thing that can happen, and often does at the local-station level. When news programming is involved, things get complicated.
The media side will weaponize their news team with a “We’re-about-to-be-taken-down-by-the-bad-guy” narrative. And since it’s presented as the news (we’ll let you decide if Newsmax reports news), vested viewers often buy in. Local-market disputes sometimes lack the scale to get national media attention, but this one has plenty of reach — all the way up to Congress.
That status of Newsmax as a recognized news outlet gives it with a chip DirecTV cannot match. The satellite-TV company continues to state that its preference would be to have Newsmax TV back — just at the right rate. (And this is a DirecTV decision, one insider told us, not a corporate AT&T call.)
Via its website TheTVTruth.com, DirecTV argues that while Newsmax publicly says it wants $1 per DirecTV subscriber, they actually want more. Even at an estimated 13 million subs (DirecTV does not disclose a number, but they have not disputed the previously reported estimate), that’d be $13 million per year across multiple years.
Newsmax, which didn’t want to get into the dollars and cents here, would likely say DirecTV’s summation of its financial position is greatly exaggerated. Well, Newsmax would know something about exaggeration. In an effort to demonstrate its accusation of DirecTV’s liberal-media bias, Newsmax counted even The Weather Channel (?!) among the left-leaning cable-news stations offered — and compensated — by DirecTV. (For the record, DirecTV offers conservative-favorite Fox News Channel in addition to left-leaning channels MSNBC and CNN. It did drop the pro-Trump OAN in 2022.)
Newsmax’s political defense, its calls to action, and even its language have quietly downgraded over the past month. That’s a sign we’re getting close to a deal. A Newsmax relaunch on DirecTV would need to go through the normal channel-launch process on DirecTV, we’re told. Before it’s up and running, DirecTV needs to decide if Newsmax TV gets its old slot, Channel 349, which is now occupied by The First. The First is actually also available on an open channel, 347, which is where it could potentially stay if Newsmax TV returned.
If Newsmax does return, it may not be with the original offer DirecTV brought to the table. Whether that’s justified or a penalty is in the eye of the beholder. It is true that costs continue to rise as time goes on, but Newsmax’s rhetoric and calls for cancellation have probably cost the satellite-TV provider more than a few subscribers — at a time when satellite TV subscribers are not easy to come by. Perhaps a post-agreement penalty is in order, especially if there is additional churn from those who previously ignored Newsmax TV but would now notice (and disagree with) DirecTV bringing it back.
Either way, if and when they reconcile, do not expect more barbs from Newsmax. Contracts often include protection language for both sides; the PR teams of DirecTV and Newsmax will come together with some civilized guidelines. After all, we still live in a society — despite what they might report on Newsmax.