Nearly all of One America News Network’s (OAN) revenue last year came from a single contract with telecom giant AT&T, according to a new report.
Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue in 2020 was the result of a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing sworn testimony given last year by an OAN accountant.
The network’s founder and chief executive, Robert Herring, testified that he was offered $250 million for OAN in 2019, and a company accountant testified that without the DirecTV contract, the company’s value would be “zero.”
OAN has emerged as a haven for far-right political viewpoints and targets viewers with an affinity for former President Trump. It rose to prominence during the Trump presidency by covering his rallies live and featuring hosts who would laud the president’s policies.
The network was sued earlier this year by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation based on statements made about the 2020 election.
Herring, in sworn testimony reviewed by Reuters, revealed that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives.
“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring reportedly said. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [left-wing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”
In a statement to The Hill on Wednesday, company spokesman Jim Greer said, “AT&T has never had a financial interest in OAN’s success and does not ‘fund’ OAN.”
“When AT&T acquired DIRECTV, we refused to carry OAN on that platform, and OAN sued DIRECTV as a result. Four years ago, DIRECTV reached a commercial carriage agreement with OAN, as it has with hundreds of other channels and as OAN has done with the other TV providers that carry its programming,” Greer said. “DIRECTV offers a wide variety of programming, including many news channels that offer a variety of viewpoints, but it does not dictate or control programming on the channels. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong. The decision of whether to renew the carriage agreement upon its expiration will be up to DIRECTV, which is now a separate company outside of AT&T.”
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