A pair of top Senate Republicans are demanding answers from AT&T after a subsidiary of the telecom giant announced plans to drop One America News Network (OAN) from its satellite service by April.
“We write to you with grave concern for the future of journalism and political discourse in America,” wrote Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa earlier this month. The pair of GOP lawmakers outlined potential personal interests in the decision from one member of AT&T’s board of directors. He also holds a financial stake in Dominion Voting Systems, which is suing OAN for its coverage of the 2020 election:
1. One America News Network (‘OANN’) is being sued for alleged defamation by Dominion Voting Systems.
2. Dominion Voting Systems is owned by Staple Street Capital.
3. William Kennard is on the executive board of Staple Street Capital.
4. William Kennard is also the Chairman of AT&T’s board of directors.
5. AT&T owns 70% of DirectTV, and controls two seats on DirectTV’s board of directors.
6. DirectTV has decided not to renew its contract with OANN.
“These facts raise serious questions about the role of political influence in DirectTV’s programming decisions,” Lee and Grassley added, “as well as whether AT&T’s Chairman has allowed personal financial considerations to influence his oversight.”
The senators gave AT&T until April 4 to respond to questions about the company’s decision to ax OAN from its lineup.
OANN responded to DirectTV’s January announcement it would not renew the companies’ contract with a lawsuit filed in early March.
“AT&T, AT&T Services, and DIRECTV have bowed to political pressure and have put their
unlawful interests and the unlawful personal, political, and financial interests of their
management ahead of contractual and legal obligations,” the network argued.
While Fox News and Newsmax retracted stories indicting Dominion Voting Systems, OANN never did. If DirectTV follows through on its promise to drop OANN from its airwaves, the network would be stripped of its largest distributor.
Former President Donald Trump called for a boycott of DirectTV in response to its planned termination of the satellite provider’s relationship with OANN.