Former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke recently praised Fox News host Tucker Carlson for repeatedly broadcasting on his show the white nationalist-fabricated “great replacement theory” that falsely claims Democrats want to replace white people with people of color. The Neo Nazi website Daily Stormer has called Carlson “literally our greatest ally.”
If you pay for any basic cable package, you are helping fund everything that Fox News airs.
You probably knew all that. But did you know that if you have a cable subscription, you are literally helping pay Carlson’s salary so he can spew his despicable white nationalism — along with his recent lies suggesting that the Jan. 6 was a “false flag” operation?
If you pay for any basic cable package, you are helping fund everything that Fox News airs, from its misleading information about Covid vaccines (which prompted me to start a campaign in July urging people to file a complaint against Fox News with the Federal Trade Commission) to its 2020 election conspiracies. That’s because every month built into your cable bill is a fee (an average of $2 a month) that goes to Fox News — including the salaries of Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and others.
That’s right, only about 3 million Americans watch Fox News on a daily basis yet the nation’s estimated 65 million cable-connected households are forced to fund Fox News, allowing Fox to reap an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue per year in carriage fees.
It’s time this ends. We must demand that cable operators grant us freedom from Fox News.
Before you roll your eyes and ask, “Hasn’t this been tried before and failed?” — this is different. In the past, people have asked their cable operators to drop Fox News. That’s not the thrust of this campaign. Instead this is about asking cable companies to offer us cable packages that simply don’t include Fox News, so that those of us who don’t want to support the network are no longer mandated to pay a monthly fee to the company.
If people want to watch Fox News broadcast its rancid red meat, they should be able to. That’s freedom. But freedom is also not forcing the 62 million households who don’t partake to subsidize Fox News’ right-wing propaganda. Given how much the right tells us they love “freedom,” they should support this quest.
It’s true other news outlets — including MSNBC, CNN and others — receive a fee to be carried by cable companies, but those fees are far lower, since Fox News attracts the largest cable news audience.
Because Fox News reaps nearly $2 billion in revenue from its carriage fees, the outlet is in essence immunized from advertiser boycotts that could help us rein in its vileness.
This is not begrudging Fox News’ ability to negotiate a higher cable fee; it’s that I don’t want to help fund that network. Do you? 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.
There’s a straight line between the high subscriber fees we are mandated to pay and the content Fox News airs. Because Fox News reaps nearly $2 billion in revenue from its carriage fees, the outlet is in essence immunized from advertiser boycotts that could help us rein in its vileness.
Per Sleeping Giants, “a campaign for media, advertising and social platform accountability,” Carlson is so extreme that he has almost no advertisers left, meaning, “Fox News operates his show at a loss when it comes to ad revenue.” But Fox News can pay Carlson and other host big salaries “through carriage fees, which we all pay into through our basic cable packages,” which was confirmed to me by Media Matters President Angelo Carusone.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Cable companies now offer premium channels like HBO, Showtime, etc. that we don’t pay for unless we agree in advance to subscribe to and thus pay an extra fee. This is a staple of every cable company, meaning companies clearly have the technology to easily do the same for Fox News.
If you want Fox News, then you should pay a monthly fee to watch it like you do with HBO. The rest of us who don’t want to subscribe to Fox News should not be forced to pay a premium fee for a channel we want nothing to do with.
If you want your freedom from Fox News because you are disgusted by being compelled to pay Tucker Carlson’s salary, call your cable company and demand that it offer you a package that excludes the network — and therefore the monthly Fox News “tax.”
As I learned, my cable company doesn’t offer such a package. But cable operators are concerned with losing cable subscribers, and the more people demand it the more leverage we have. Since 2018, the number of American households with cable has dropped from 83 million to now about 65 million. And people dropping cable is accelerating with over 1.1 million unplugging their cable subscription this year from April to June alone.
I will continue to encourage people to pressure cable companies to offer us packages where we don’t pay for Fox News. But if that fails, I will drop my cable subscription. Because I refuse to fund a channel spreading bigotry and undermining our democracy.
This is about using our wallets to have an impact on issues that matter. If you are fine with funding Tucker Carlson and the toxic vileness served up by Fox, then do nothing. But if you want to change it, call your cable company today and demand your freedom from Fox News. The more of us who call, the better the chance we get our freedom.