The owner of an America News Network subsidiary lost a key ruling in a lawsuit against DirecTV over the television provider’s decision to drop OAN from its channel’s lineup. Herring Networks once owned OAN DirecTV and its owner, AT&T, filed a lawsuit in March 2022claiming breach of contract.
The lawsuit always seemed like an uphill battle for Herring Networks because DirecTV didn’t turn off OAN while they still had a carriage agreement. Instead, DirecTV waited until the carriage agreement expired and chose not to renew it.
Most of the OAN claims in the Rule It was issued last week by Judge John Mayer of the California Superior Court in San Diego County. DirecTV sued SLAPP (Strategic Claims Against Public Participation) to strike Herring Networks’ complaint; DirecTV’s proposal was partially accepted and partially rejected.
“With respect to a breach of an implied covenant claim, to the extent it is based on failure to renew the affiliation agreement, the claim fails because the agreement has a fixed expiration date and there is no provision authorizing Herring to renew,” the ruling said.
DirecTV: “We expected this positive result”
Meyer issued the opinion Thursday as a “preliminary ruling,” then held a five-minute hearing on Friday. San Diego Times Report At the hearing, he said, “three attorneys from Herring and five representing the defendants agreed to a preliminary judgment delivered Thursday night.”
We contacted Herring Networks about the ruling and will update this article if we get a response.
DirecTV said it expects the ruling to be in its favor. “While we anticipated this positive outcome, we are pleased that the judge ruled in our favor and nullified OAN Central’s claims with respect to our decision not to renew a commercial agreement with the programmer,” DirecTV said in a statement provided to Ars. (AT&T has completed a dossier spin off from DirecTV in 2021 but still owns 70 percent of the satellite provider.)
Surviving the ruling, Herring Networks alleges that DirecTV violated a confidentiality agreement by publicly disclosing the end date of the OAN carriage contract. The judge wrote that Herring “sufficiently alleged a violation of the confidentiality clause” and “is entitled to at least token damages” if she wins that claim at trial.
The judgment’s conclusion read, “The court sets aside all claims, except for a breach of contract claim to the extent the claim is based on DirecTV’s disclosure of the expiration date of the current affiliation agreement.”
While Herring Networks “fouled off an attempted murder breach of contract lawsuit” altogether, the ruling means it “could be out of luck with a loss suit” in excess of $1 billion,” the Times of San Diego writes.
OAN criticized for ‘election fraud lies’
Herring’s complaint against DirecTV and AT&T said the lawsuit is an attempt to “rectify the uncensored influence and power that Defendants exercised in an effort to illegally destroy an independent family-run business and impede the right of American television viewers to watch the news media channels and programs of their choice.”
DirecTV announced its decision to drop OAN in January 2022 amid pressure from advocacy groups. Media Matters, Free Press, and other groups have it wrote a letter to AT&T and DirecTV saying OAN “is a major supporter of the Stop the Steal movement and is currently Lawsuit by Dominion For spreading election fraud lies that claimed the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.[ed] Violent calls for an attack on the US Capitol” and broadcasting “disinformation about COVID-19”.
OAN host Dan Paul called the unreleased DirecTV “censorship at its best” and Urge viewers to “Calling the AT&T support line. Complaining, raising hell, emailing, calling daily, hourly, setting an alarm on your phone, blowing phone lines, asking them to keep OAN.”
Herring Networks has lost an attempt to stop a defamation lawsuit brought by the voting machine company Dominion. In a November 2022 ruling in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Carl Nichols Refusal Herring proposal to dismiss the case.