AT&T played key role in founding of far-right conspiracy outlet OAN, channel’s president said in court

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Court documents were first reported by Reuters An in-depth story Wednesday detailed how AT&T, which is also Granthshala’s parent company, “helped build” the channel.

The Reuters story noted that, in addition to playing a key role in its founding, AT&T remains a significant revenue stream for the network today. The outlet cited the oath of an OAN accountant in 2020, who said 90% of the channel’s revenue is from AT&T-owned platforms.

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While Granthshala was unable to review all court documents obtained by Reuters for its story, AT&T is by far OAN’s largest television distributor.

OAN is a small viewing channel headquartered in San Diego founded in 2013 by California businessman Robert Herring. But its popularity has grown in recent years due in large part to campaigning by former President Donald Trump.

The outlet has been notorious for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus as well as being one of the main promoters of the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

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But until Reuters published its reporting on Wednesday, little was known about AT&T’s role in founding the channel.

Herring filed a lawsuit against AT&T in 2016, alleging that the company violated an agreement to carry its channel on DirecTV, which it owned at the time (AT&T is now also owns 70% of DirecTV, which has been spun off into a standalone company). In a court document reviewed by Granthshala as part of the lawsuit, Herring said that when he was thinking about creating a new cable channel, AT&T advised him to start a news network. .

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“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said in a statement for a separate 2019 case. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others. [leftwing] Party. When he said so, I jumped on him and built one.”

In a 2016 court document, Herring said that AT&T had struck a deal with AT&T to move its channel to DirecTV for about $100 million over five years, when AT&T acquired the satellite provider. had completed, but it had started again.

In another document reviewed by Granthshala, Herring said AT&T had also proposed taking a 5% ownership stake in his company, and that the stake would guarantee OAN a spot on DirecTV’s channel lineup.

The ownership stake never materialized, but after the lawsuit was filed, AT&T eventually reached an agreement with OAN to move it to DirecTV. The terms of that agreement were not publicly disclosed.

In a statement, an AT&T spokesperson said, “AT&T has never had a financial interest in OAN’s success and does not ‘fund’ OAN. When AT&T acquired DIRECTV, we moved OAN to that platform. refused to leave, and OAN sued DIRECTV as a result. Four years earlier, DirecTV entered a commercial carriage agreement with OAN, as with hundreds of other channels, and OAN did with other TV providers who do its programming.”

“DirectV offers a wide variety of programming, including several news channels that offer a variety of viewpoints, but it does not own or control the programming on the channels,” the spokesperson said. “Otherwise any suggestion is wrong. The decision to renew the carriage agreement upon its termination will be up to DIRECTV, which is now a separate company outside of AT&T.”

An AT&T spokesperson turned his attention when Granthshala was asked several questions. For example, when asked whether AT&T ever discussed acquiring a 5% stake in OAN, the spokesperson said only that the channel “never had an ownership stake”. And when asked whether AT&T representatives had ever suggested Herring start a news channel, the spokesperson said only that when it acquired DirecTV it initially “refused to take it”. Gave”.

“The only news network that we ‘fund’ is Granthshala because it is a part of AT&T,” the spokesperson said. “Just like we do with MSNBC, Fox News and other news channels, we have a commercial carriage agreement with OAN.”

Charles Herring, the son of Robert Herring and chairman of OAN’s parent company, did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

AT&T’s involvement with OAN drew sharp criticism after Reuters published its report on Wednesday.

“We are outraged to learn that AT&T has been funneling millions of dollars into OAN since the network’s inception,” Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a statement. “As a result, AT&T has done irreparable damage to our democracy. The press must inform the American public with facts, not far-fetched propaganda and conspiracy theories.”

“We are sick of these revelations,” Johnson said.

Granthshala’s Katelyn Polantz and Brian Stelter contributed to this report.

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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