Courts

Far-Right OAN Sues Dallas-Based AT&T for Dropping Their Contract

OAN is suing Dallas-based AT&T for dropping its contract.
OAN is suing Dallas-based AT&T for dropping its contract. OAN
CORRECTION, 3/20/22: This story has been updated to amend attribution to an AT&T spokesperson and to correct a description of AT&T's relationship to DirecTV.

One America News Network, once a favorite of former president Donald Trump, is suing AT&T and DirecTV over an alleged breach of contract, The Dallas Morning News reported.

OAN’s gripe with the Dallas-based telecommunications company stems from DirecTV’s announcement last month that it would not be renewing its contract to offer the network on its list of available channels for paying customers.

The lawsuit claimed that the "damage caused by DirecTV’s non-renewal, if not addressed and reversed in the near future, will result in damage to Herring exceeding $1 billion,” according to the Morning News.

Herring Networks, which owns OAN, filed the lawsuit against AT&T earlier this week. Herring attorneys allege in the suit that AT&T executive board chairman William Kennard was involved in a complex plot to quash OAN, which garnered significant viewership and secured the favor of President Trump by pushing misinformation about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The suit points to Kennard’s positions as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under both the Clinton and Obama administrations as evidence of the sweeping influence needed to pull off the plot. It also alleges that Kennard’s position on the board of a private equity group that owns the voting machine company that sued OAN for pushing voter fraud conspiracy theories influenced AT&T’s choice to ditch OAN.

“These allegations are completely without merit, particularly as they relate to AT&T and our independent Chairman,” an AT&T spokesperson told the Observer.

In the months leading up to the November 2020 presidential elections, Fox News recycled then President Donald Trump's baseless claims of an electoral conspiracy against him. But on Nov. 7, Fox reversed course, declaring Joe Biden the winner.

As Trump and his supporters railed against Fox, the most-watched network in the U.S. saw its ratings plummet in the weeks after the election. Trump took to Twitter to berate Fox’s election coverage.
In the months after the election, AT&T caught flak from many across the political spectrum for reportedly funding OAN.

OAN’s baseless election fraud accusations were funded almost entirely by AT&T, a Reuters investigation revealed in October. The investigation found that AT&T, through a deal between its subsidiary company DirecTV and OAN, brings in 90% of the network’s revenue.

OAN did not respond to the Observer’s request for comment.
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Michael Murney is a staff writer at the Dallas Observer and a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. His reporting has appeared in Chicago’s South Side Weekly and the Chicago Reader.
Contact: Michael Murney