Biden FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn: ‘Very Troubled’ by ‘Deplatforming of Newsmax’

Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s nominee for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission, told a Senate Committee Tuesday that the agency should investigate AT&T DirecTV’s “deplatforming of Newsmax,” which she described as “very troubling.”

During hearings for her nomination before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the liberal Sohn openly questioned the deplatforming of conservative networks Newsmax and OAN by AT&T’s DirecTV.

AT&T deplatformed Newsmax last month after OAN was removed in April of 2022.

AT&T cited cost-cutting for the moves, but has kept many costly and lower-rated channels on their systems.

“I don’t know why DirecTV deplatformed them,” Sohn told the Senate panel, noting that Sen. Ted Cruz had recently made an issue of their cancelations.

“There’s another issue right in the FCC’s wheelhouse, which Sen. Cruz just put out a statement a little while ago, and that’s the deplatforming of Newsmax and OAN,” she said.

“I spilled blood trying to get them on platforms — the predecessor to OAN called Wealth TV but also Newsmax,” she added.

She said she was “very troubled” by AT&T’s decision to remove the networks.

“But I fear there may be some competitive issues at play. I don’t know the actual facts, but I think it’s something the FCC should investigate.”

Sohn floated the idea that independent channels like Newsmax and OAN are disadvantaged against large cable operators because they don’t have the leverage that large media companies have offering a bundle of channels.

“So, I think this is an opportunity, the deplatforming of Newsmax, to look at some of the practices around bundling and most-favored-nation clauses,” Sohn stated.

Most Favored Nation clauses help cable operators to effectively collude on their pricing and negotiations with networks.

The nominee’s comments arrived in the midst of Republican senators grilling Sohn over her past work with various nonprofits, including one that was ordered to shut down after four broadcast networks filed a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Sohn’s work for the nonprofit sought to allow consumers to have easy access on their cell phones and other devices to access free, over-the-air television broadcast networks.

Sohn has been falsely accused of calling for the deplatforming of Fox News. In a tweet, she had suggested Congress should hold hearings on their reporting, however.

Both the CEOs of OAN and Newsmax have praised Sohn as supportive of independent networks and that she was willing to challenge the large media companies that stymie competition by dominating the regulatory environment of the FCC.

Reporting from Newsmax.