DIRECTV announced today that it will “very soon” add the right-wing opinion channel, The First, to the DIRECTV satellite lineup, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse. The addition of The First comes after House Republicans threatened to hold hearings on the TV provider’s decision this week to drop Newsmax, another conservative news outlet.
Update, January 27: The First has been added to all three services.
The First, which will be available as a free channel on all three TV services, features such programs as The Dana Show starring conservative pundit Dana Loesch, The Liz Wheeler Show and No Spin News with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
“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,” Rob Thun, DIRECTV’s chief content officer, said in a statement. “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 on Tuesday night lost the right-wing news channel, Newsmax, in a carriage dispute between the companies. (The blackout also affects DIRECTV Stream and U-verse.) The TV provider issued a statement saying that Newsmax wanted “significant” carriage fees to stay on the three TV services. The channel previously provided its signal for free, DIRECTV claimed.
But Newsmax, and a group of U.S. House Republicans, charged that DIRECTV removed the channel due to liberal bias. They noted that DIRECTV a year ago dropped OAN, another conservative news channel. It’s unclear if the addition of The First will end GOP calls to hold hearings on the Newsmax removal.
Until now, The First had been available exclusively via streaming on such free services as Pluto TV and the web. The DIRECTV agreement should help The First broaden its audience and its advertising revenue. The three DIRECTV-owned services have roughly 13 million subscribers combined.
“DIRECTV clearly recognizes the importance of offering a wide array of views and perspectives to their customers across the U.S., and we’re thrilled The First is now among them since we reach conservatives who aren’t beholden to any one party’s talking points,” said Christopher Balfe, Chief Executive officer, First TV. “We give rise to voices who are passionate about American values yet too often ignored, and now have a unique opportunity to broaden our reach without saddling DIRECTV and its customers with any added financial demands.”
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— Phillip Swann