Since DirecTV dropped Newsmax on Jan. 24, AT&T’s stock has fallen by almost 7%, wiping nearly $10 billion from its market value.
AT&T, the 70% owner of DirecTV, has come under fierce criticism after deplatforming Newsmax from its satellite TV systems — the second conservative channel it has removed in the past year, with OAN going last April.
Days after the Newsmax drop, former President Donald Trump called on Americans to cancel not only DirecTV but all AT&T services, including cellular and wireless services.
“I think it’s deplorable,” Trump said of the cancellation. “Newsmax did well in the ratings, so they actually took something off that was actually doing well in the ratings, as opposed to other shows that don’t.”
Since the removal of Newsmax, AT&T stock appears to be significantly underperforming the market while major stock indices have held steady during the past 12 trading days.
The S&P 500 actually rose 0.37% between Jan. 25 and Feb. 10, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined just 1.84% between those dates.
Newsmax has been alerting its supporters about AT&T’s decision through its network, the fourth highest-rated cable news channel, reaching 25 million Americans, according to Nielsen.
Newsmax also reaches more than 40 million Americans through significant online platforms, apps, its social media network, as well as radio and print outlets.
The reaction against AT&T and DirecTV for the deplatforming has been swift and serious.
In January, Sen. Ted Cruz led a group of senators, including Tom Cotton, Mike Lee and Lindsey Graham, in writing a letter to AT&T demanding to know why Newsmax was removed when many lesser-rated liberal news channels remain on their systems.
“The silencing of conservative speech at the request of government officials is a direct assault on free speech and a threat to democracy,” Cruz and the other senators wrote, noting that Newsmax and OAN had both been targeted by House Democrats for deplatforming.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has joined with Trump in urging conservatives to cancel AT&T and DirecTV products.
Other leaders — including former Arkansas GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla.; Dennis Prager — have encouraged Americans to switch their service providers.
This week, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent out an urgent email to committee members calling DirecTV’s decision “anti-free-speech and anti-American.”
“DirecTV has claimed that their decision was the result of a dispute over carrier fees, but this is yet another example of powerful corporations silencing conservative viewpoints,” she wrote.
DirecTV claimed both Newsmax and OAN were removed as “cost-cutting” measures.
At the same time, the service continues to carry 22 left-leaning news channels, many with much lower ratings than Newsmax. All of those channels get hefty license fees, all higher than what Newsmax was seeking.
“DirecTV’s position has always been that Newsmax — of all cable news channels — should never get any cable fee whatsoever, not one penny,” Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy said.
Ruddy said AT&T’s targeting of Newsmax for unequal treatment is “an act of political discrimination and blatant censorship.”