Media giant AT&T is mired in an advertising contract with One America News network (OAN), the virulently pro-Donald Trump cable channel, until 2024, according to Reuters. The news, first revealed in a lawsuit filed by OAN against the telecom giant, comes months after after AT&T’s subsidiary, satellite TV provider DirecTV, decided to boot the conspiracy-addled news network from its bundle of cable channels, much to the chagrin of Trump acolytes throughout the nation.
AT&T signed an advertising deal with OAN’s owner, Herring Networks, in 2019. That contracts locks the two companies into doing business with one another until at least 2024, during which time another AT&T will sell ads on behalf of OAN on a variety of different platforms.
News of the deal was initially made public in a lawsuit filed by Herring Networks against AT&T and DirecTV filed late last week. Herring claims a grand conspiracy led to the removal of OAN from DirecTV. It asserts its dismissal from DirecTV was “part and parcel of a larger, coordinated, extremely well-financed political scheme to take down Herring and unlawfully destroy its ability to operate in the media business.” Herring is seeking $1 billion in damages for the alleged harm.
AT&T said of Herring’s suit, “These allegations are completely without merit.”
Herring is likely in need of cash. After the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, OAN became a wellspring of conspiracy theories about election fraud—so much so that Dominion Voting Systems, the voting machine company at the heart of many of those conspiracy theories, launched a $1.6 billion lawsuit against the news outlet.
OAN and DirecTV struck a distribution deal in 2017 as part of a settlement agreement that obligated the cable provider to make the channel available to subscribers, and DirecTV has been OAN’s only major distributor for the past five years. The contract expires in April, and DirecTV has indicated it will not renew it. An OAN accountant previously testified under oath that the worth of OAN in the absence of DirecTV’s distribution “would be zero.”
Reuters has previously reported that AT&T played a pivotal role in helping to create and fund OAN.