MSNBC’s Dean Obeidallah published a column Wednesday urging his readers to pressure their cable companies to offer packages that don’t include MSNBC’s biggest competitor, Fox News. He encouraged them to join him in canceling their cable if the companies do not comply.
“This is about using our wallets to have an impact on issues that matter,” he said. “I refuse to fund a channel spreading bigotry and undermining our democracy.”
Obeidallah explained that a basic cable subscription funds Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, as well as MSNBC hosts like Joy Reid and Nicolle Wallace because cable providers bundle channels into a package and customers pay for all of the networks they receive. Cable operators then pay carriage fees to networks. He said that Fox News receives almost $2 billion in revenue from these fees.
“If you pay for any basic cable package, you are helping fund everything that Fox News airs,” he said. “It’s infuriating that on some level you and I are complicit in the toxic fodder being peddled on Fox News by helping fund its content.”
Obeidallah acknowledged that MSNBC is itself funded by these cable packages and receives these fees, but noted that these fees are much lower for his own network since its viewership is so much smaller.
The average customer pays around $2 a month in fees to Fox News, which is the most-watched cable network. In comparison, they pay around $0.33 to MSNBC. During primetime hours, Fox News has nearly twice the viewership that MSNBC does.
Obeidallah is not alone in calling for cable companies to scrap Fox News, but he might be the first person employed by a network to call on people to stop purchasing a cable package if the companies don’t comply and to pledge to “drop” his own subscription alongside them.
Oliver Darcy, a media reporter at Fox’s other rival, CNN, said earlier this year that “it is time TV carriers face questions for lending their platforms to dishonest companies that profit off of disinformation and conspiracy theories.”
It appears highly unlikely that cable companies will remove Fox News. Some cable providers, including AT&T and Comcast, own their own channels, so kicking Fox News off could violate a rule that bans giving preferential treatment to their own networks. It’s also hard to believe cable companies would easily part with America’s most-watched network.