Telecom giant also played major role in creating and funding the network, Reuters investigation finds
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One America News Network is primarily funded by AT&T, Reuters reported Wednesday.
OANN, which broadcasts conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and the 2020 election to its conservative audience, was even the idea of AT&T executives, who, per testimony reviewed by Reuters, asked now-CEO Robert Herring Sr. to make a conservative network to compete with Fox News in 2013. The executives, he testified, thought there were too many liberal channels, too. (Thanks to an acquisition of WarnerMedia in 2018, AT&at owns CNN.)
Per Reuters, AT&T has contributed “tens of missions of dollars in revenue” to the network, which has faced lawsuits for its coverage of the 2020 election. In fact, the report shows, 90% of OANN’s revenue comes from a contract with television platforms AT&T owns, including DirecTV.
In one piece of testimony the outlet reviewed, Herring said he was offered $250 million for OANN in 2019. The value of the network “would be zero” without the DirecTV deal, he said.
In August, DirecTV completed its spinoff from AT&T, with the telecom giant on announcing it will retain a 70% stake in the company and private equity firm, TPG Capital, will grab the other 30%.
The deal, first announced back in February, came six years after AT&T completed its acquisition of DirecTV. Moving forward, the standalone DirecTV will include its satellite service, AT&T TV — which will be rebranded as DirecTV Stream — and U-Verse TV. Altogether, the three services had 15.4 million subscribers by the end of the second quarter.
A representative for AT&T did not immediately return a request for comment.
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