WASHINGTON — Today, Color Of Change and Free Press called on AT&T and DIRECTV to sever all financial ties to One America News Network (OANN) and drop the channel from its pay-TV services.
The demand follows a Reuters report that found that AT&T has been a substantial source of financial support for OANN, a far-right news organization responsible for fanning the flames of hatred targeted at Black people and other communities of color, promoting anti-vaccine and “Big Lie” conspiracy theories, and defending perpetrators of the white-supremacist assault on Congress on Jan. 6.
AT&T is the major reason for OANN’s success. AT&T executives called for the creation of the far-right network and the company reportedly provides 90 percent of the station’s revenue via a contract with AT&T-controlled pay-TV services, primarily DIRECTV.
In a petition, activists from Color Of Change and Free Press are calling on AT&T CEO John Stankey to cut all financial ties to OANN and cut the channel from its pay-TV offerings. “You cannot credibly say that you ‘stand for equity’ while also propping up a network like OANN, which is an active and present threat to our communities.”
Subscribers to AT&T’s various pay-TV bundles don’t get to choose most of the channels that are offered. In the case of OANN, this means those who may object to its racism and lies are forced to help pay for its programming via their monthly pay-TV bill.
Color Of Change President Rashad Robinson made the following statement:
“No matter the strained explanations or public-relations spin, the truth is out: AT&T is actively helping to bring down our democracy and disappear Black votes. As the biggest silent partner in the most irresponsible, dangerous and hostile media platform in America, AT&T has sponsored the violent, illegal and racist attempt to overturn a presidential election and overthrow our government. Color Of Change calls on all executives across the AT&T family of brands to hold their parent company accountable and immediately sever all financial support and business ties to One America News.
“This is a pattern for AT&T — the corporation has also contributed to political action committees for right-wing politicians who tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. No empty words in support of Black lives can save AT&T in the face of these actions — only a full and immediate rejection of further support for racist media platforms and politicians can do so. Facebook is not the only global media corporation that has consistently chosen to do anything for another buck, even if it means supporting white nationalists and sacrificing the safety and security of millions of Americans. AT&T must divest immediately from business models built on racist and dangerous media content.”
Free Press Co-CEO Jessica J. González made the following statement:
“With news that AT&T has effectively bankrolled One America News, we’re witnessing the intentional weaponization of anti-Black, anti-immigrant and anti-democratic sentiments supported by one of the world’s biggest media companies. We need answers and accountability about AT&T’s role in supporting and amplifying dangerous conspiracies and attempts to overthrow the government. But as an immediate first step, we need AT&T to stop forcing its customers to subsidize One America’s bigotry and lies.
“More media companies nationwide are publicly acknowledging the role they’ve played in inciting hatred and violence, propagating conspiracy theories, and advancing stereotypes and tropes about Black people and other communities of color. As our Media 2070 project has made clear, this moment in our history demands a broader reckoning with the ways our media system is structured, and the federal policies and undue corporate influence that have shaped it. It’s time for AT&T to follow suit and make good on its own PR pledge to ‘stand for equity.’ Immediately severing all ties to One America News is a step in the right direction.”