Update (7/21/22): On Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that Verizon was “unable to reach an agreement” with Herring Networks, and that OAN will be “removed from the Fios TV lineup” on July 31.
In recent weeks, One America News Network has lobbed attacks at Verizon, one of its last remaining carriers, for “silencing conservative voices” and “engaging in censorship” against OAN. This wave of attacks came into clearer focus when Verizon publicly revealed that its contract with Herring Networks, OAN’s parent company, expires on July 30.
The “content update” for customers on Verizon’s website states that “sometimes broadcasters and cable networks demand unacceptable price increases,” implying that the issue is Herring Networks charging Verizon more money than its channels are worth -- which is not much.
And in a message dated July 15, Verizon alerted Fios customers that starting soon, the provider would be offering OAN and Herring's A Wealth of Entertainment, (AWE) “to those Fios TV customers who want to watch them and are willing to pay for them” -- suggesting the channels might soon be available only as premium subscriptions.
Whether the issue is financial or otherwise, Verizon is right to balk at renewing the contract to carry an extremist, increasingly hateful, and anti-democracy network. OAN has shown a zeal unlike any other self-styled news organization for fighting the results of the 2020 election, including involving itself in the Trump campaign’s fake electors scheme and state election “audits,” as well as issuing calls for treason trials and mass executions of media and Democratic Party leadership.
OAN also manages to stand out among right-wing cable networks for its viciously anti-LGBTQ commentary, labeling LGBTQ people and their allies -- especially transgender people -- as pedophiles “satisfying their own warped perversions” and also “canceling reproduction” for “population control.” Said one guest, “We need to start really going after these people and really punishing them.”
As Verizon’s contract with OAN is coming to a close, the network is still staking out the only negotiating position it seems to know and one that worked so well in its fractious DirecTV relationship -- hostile attacks.
In an interview with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), OAN correspondent Caitlin Sinclair labeled Verizon “one of the largest and wokest companies to date” and accused it of “looking to drop this network, One America News, from their lineup.” Sinclair asked Stefanik, “What pressure are you and Republican colleagues possibly putting on Verizon, or can you put on a company like Verizon?” Stefanik replied, “It’s not up to Verizon to determine what American citizens, what information they can access. That’s up to the consumer themselves.”
In a different portion of the same Stefanik interview, which OAN aired in two separate segments, Sinclair claimed that OAN’s viewership “is just proof that the American people do not want orthodoxy.” She also asked, “What can the American people do in the meantime as far as immediate steps to ensure consumer choice when it comes to news programming?” Stefanik advised the consumers to “hold these companies accountable” by choosing to “take your dollars elsewhere.”
Sinclair concluded the segment by declaring, “We the American people cannot continue to allow this level of censorship. House Republicans and their legislative efforts are commendable and critical, but we still need to hear from you. This assault on our sovereignty ends with us, the American citizens, taking back the power.”
In another interview, this time with Heritage Foundation tech policy director Kara Frederick, OAN D.C. bureau chief John Hines asked if a 2021 letter from Democratic members of Congress asking TV providers, including Verizon, to comment on right-wing misinformation was “a form of subtle intimidation, sort of a wink-and-a-nod form of intimidation, or a tacit threat” from the government. Frederick replied that Congress was essentially saying that “if we don’t like what these networks are basically saying and disseminating, then we aim to cut you off at the knees.” Hines concluded that “maybe even your cable -- DirecTV, Verizon, Comcast -- maybe they won’t be on your side after they get some of these letters,” which were sent 17 months ago.
OAN’s consistent whining about “censorship” is a red herring from the unavoidable truth: This incredibly hateful and anti-democratic network is a liability for any TV provider that does business with it.