The founder and CEO of San Diego-based One America News on Thursday appealed to viewers of his far-right network to contact their cable provider to carry OAN.
Robert Herring Sr. commented publicly for the first time on “surprise” news a week ago that AT&T and DirecTV would drop OAN.
“Whether it’s Spectrum, Dish, or any of the other great providers … let them know that you would like for them to carry One America News,” he said in a 2 1/2-minute segment.
He even revealed what OAN makes in the carriage agreement.
“We only charge 10 cents per household per month,” Herring said. “That is a great deal by any standard, giving all of the amazing content our team puts out.”
In March 2016, OAN sued AT&T, complaining that AT&T had decided to acquire DirecTV and wind-down U-verse without telling Herring Networks. A year later, the case was dismissed at the request of both parties.
But in that original complaint, OAN said its monthly carriage fee was 18 cents per subscriber.
More recently, a leading market analytics firm listed OAN’s affiliate fee at 12 cents, which is what Media Matters President Angelo Carusone tweeted in October.
“AT&T has been what certainly seems like overpaying for OANN,” said a Media Matters spokeswoman Friday. “Fees are set by negotiation, but a big driver is demand score (the number of people requesting the channel). OANN doesn’t have a particular high demand score and certainly not one that would justify 12 cents.”
In 2019, OAN claimed to be available to 35 million households, but its actual viewership has been placed at only tens of thousands.
But Donald Trump has called OAN his favorite channel, and OAN reciprocates by supporting his false claims of election fraud.
Carusone of the left-leading watchdog Media Matters for America said last week: “Now that OAN’s anchor distributor has dropped them, Verizon FiOS (OAN’s second major distributor) should follow suit. And certainly no other cable provider should pick them up.”
In his on-air remarks Thursday, Herring said he had been working with AT&T CEO John Stankey, “and we always appreciate the great working relationship we had with him.”
But he said William Kennard, the new head of AT&T’s board, let OAN know that he and the rest of the board “simply do not want to carry us anymore. It was a complete surprise to us, given how great our viewership has been.”
Herring added: “Now we don’t know exactly what we are going to do yet. But don’t worry, we have a lot of options. We have always been and are still more than happy to talk to the cable providers throughout the country.”
A spokeswoman for Media Matters said Friday that Herring’s remarks about AT&T and Chairman Kennard come after on-air remarks from OAN host Dan Ball asking viewers to dig up dirt on Kennard.
“The same host is now asking viewers to call AT&T and DirecTV and threaten to drop them if OAN is removed,” she said via email. “Without DirecTV, OAN would certainly not exist in its current form and possibly not at all.”
In his remarks, Herring said he had worked with AT&T “in one capacity or another” starting at age 20 years old.
“I started out as a chauffeur, driving their executives around town; and later in life, this little news network that I built with my family and a small group of the hardest working individuals I know found its way into the AT&T channel lineup,” he said.
Herring’s LinkedIn profile makes no mention of any work with AT&T, however.
He continued: “Our viewership has grown so much year after year, and we read every single one of your viewer emails. We take the time to talk to you when you approach us on the streets. We listen to you, and that’s why we know that you keep watching our network because we tell it like it is.”
OAN faces lawsuits demanding billions of dollars for the network’s promotion on unfounded conspiracy theories about Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems.
Last week, OAN attorney Blaine C. Kimrey filed a response defending its motion to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation suit by Dominion, launched last August.
Addressing federal Judge Carl J. Nichols in Washington, D.C., Kimrey repeated his initial motion:
“The Court should dismiss or stay this case based on Colorado River abstention,” he wrote. “Alternatively, the Court should transfer this case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado under Section 1404(a).
“And if the Court does not dismiss, stay, or transfer the case in its entirety, the Court should dismiss the claims against OAN, Charles Herring, and Robert Herring Sr. for failure by Dominion to adequately plead personal jurisdiction.”
Court records do not yet indicate when the case will be heard in U.S. District Court in D.C.
Updated at 4:13 p.m. Jan. 21, 2022