U.S. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) said on Friday that he told DirecTV to restore Newsmax to its service “or else.”
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, cable service DirecTV stopped airing the news commentary channel Newsmax in January. DirecTV is majority-owned by the Dallas-based telecommunications company AT&T.
The company was criticized by supporters of the network, including former president Donald Trump, as being political censorship. However, DirecTV maintains that they were unable to negotiate a contract and said it would be “interested in bringing Newsmax back under the right financial terms.”
Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said on Friday he is “very concerned” about the situation while appearing on Newsmax’s John Bachman Now.
“I’m very upset that DirecTV does not have Newsmax on there,” Comer said. “I’ve been in constant communication with the leadership at AT&T and DirecTV. I have strongly encouraged them to meet with your CEO, Mr. [Chris] Ruddy, to get this worked out or else!”
Comer indicated that if the issue is not resolved, DirecTV and AT&T may be called to testify before the House Oversight Committee. He added that the 26 Republicans on the committee are “very passionate” about the situation.
“We’re all huge fans of Newsmax,” Comer said. “We don’t like to see Newsmax not being offered DirecTV, especially considering Newsmax is the, I think, the fourth highest-rated news show on TV now.”
“They have dozens of other shows that have much lower ratings than Newsmax,” he continued. “So I’m doing everything in my ability to see that this gets worked out.”
“If it doesn’t, then I would expect the Republican majority to begin to take steps to take action in this,” Comer warned. “Again, this is private companies. We don’t want to see this happen.”
Comer said he will be meeting with leaders of DirecTV again this week.
“They know that I want answers. And again, our committee’s chomping at the bit to get them in front of the committee,” he said. “We want this resolved and hopefully we’ll see something within the next new days.”
Critics of DirecTV’s decision have alleged it was motivated by political censorship. During his interview with Comer, Newsmax anchor John Bachman said it was a matter of First Amendment rights.
However, DirecTV previously told The Dallas Express that the decision to drop Newsmax was made for economic reasons rather than political ones.
“We had preferred Newsmax not leave our lineup,” the company said. “But once we hit an economic impasse on financial terms, we’re prevented by law from continuing.”
“We cannot offer the channel without a contract,” DirecTV continued. “So we’re trying to work with them now to renew.”
In another statement sent to The Dallas Express, the company said, “Newsmax made unreasonable demands that would force DirecTV customers to fund the network’s shift from a free nationwide streaming service to one that will require a pay TV subscription.”
“Since we would not agree to Newsmax’s demand to pay them tens of millions of dollars in licensing fees, DirecTV was no longer permitted by Newsmax to air its content,” the statement continued, adding that the company remains “interested in bringing Newsmax back under the right financial terms.”
The Dallas Express reached out to DirecTV for additional comment regarding the statements made by Rep. Comer but received no response by the time of publication.