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House Republicans Pressure AT&T Over Decision on Far-Right News Network

One side says "censorship," while other says it's "what's right for business."
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With Republicans gaining back some modicum of power on Capitol Hill after their wins in last November's mid-term elections, the attention of the federal government was bound to shift to some of their more pet issues. 

Depending on your point of view, which networks cable and satellite operators carry may be of little consequence, or, if you are Republican, an issue of national concern that must be dealt with immediately. 

Last week, more than 40 Republican lawmakers sent a letter addressed to AT&T  (T) - Get Free Report CEO John Stankey, DirecTV CEO Bill Morrow, and Jon Winkelried, CEO of private equity firm TPG Capital accusing DirecTV of colluding with Democrats to censor conservative news outlets. 

"The actions of AT&T and DirecTV are of particular concern," the letter says. "Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to AT&T and DirecTV encouraging the censorship of conservative television networks One America News Network, Fox News, and Newsmax."

"Given the jurisdiction of the Energy and Commerce Committee over your companies' business interests, it is reasonable to assume you took this letter seriously and complied with these demands."

DirecTV Moves on From Newsmax

Newsmax was off of DirecTV as of 11:50 PM EST Jan. 24.

While the Republican letter accused the company of making the move due to political reasons, DirecTV insists that its decision was just about business. 

"On multiple occasions, we made it clear to Newsmax that we wanted to continue to offer the network, but ultimately Newsmax’s demands for rate increases would have led to significantly higher costs that we would have to pass on to our broad customer base," the company said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. 

But Republicans see something more nefarious going on. 

"It is our understanding that DirecTV -- still majority-owned by AT&T and minority-owned and managed by TPG Capital -- is moving to de-platform Newsmax by denying it cable fees on a fair and equitable basis," the letter said. 

And what is Republicans' answer to this perceived incongruity? More oversight. 

"Congress intends to conduct extensive oversight on the extent to which House Democrats and officials in federal offices colluded with private companies to limit, restrict, and circumvent First Amendment rights."