The main source of revenue for One America News – the far-right network that traffics in election conspiracy theories, COVID-19 misinformation, and Donald Trump boosterism – comes from AT&T, whose vast holdings include CNN and HBO.
According to a Reuters investigation, “AT&T has been a crucial source of funds flowing into OAN, providing tens of millions of dollars in revenue, court records show. Ninety percent of OAN’s revenue came from a contract with AT&T-owned television platforms, including satellite broadcaster DirecTV, according to 2020 sworn testimony by an OAN accountant.”
OAN’s relationship with AT&T was essential to its founding. More from Reuters:
OAN founder and chief executive Robert Herring Sr has testified that the inspiration to launch OAN in 2013 came from AT&T executives.
“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” Herring said during a 2019 deposition seen by Reuters. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [leftwing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”
“So,” a lawyer questioning Herring asked, “AT&T kind of dictated the kind of network that they wanted. Because there was an opportunity, you jumped at it?”
“Yes, sir,” Herring replied.
The deposition was connected to a labor complaint filed by a former OAN employee. When that dispute wound up in court last year, an attorney for the outlet explained that Herring Networks, the owner of OAN, still depends on AT&T for financial support.
“If Herring Networks, for instance, was to lose or not be renewed on DirecTV, the company would go out of business tomorrow,” OAN lawyer Patrick Nellies said, according to court transcripts.
Reuters also reports that Herring stayed in AT&T’s good graces by lobbying on behalf of the Dallas-based communications giant. He also promised to provide positive coverage of the company.
AT&T spokesman Jim Greer told Reuters “We have always sought to provide a wide variety of content and programming that would be of interest to customers, and do not dictate or control programming on channels we carry. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong.”
Greer said he couldn’t comment on OAN’s revenue streams, citing confidentiality agreements, but added that DirecTV broadcasts “many news channels that offer viewpoints across the political spectrum.”