(Bloomberg) -- DirecTV said it dropped Newsmax in a dispute over fees — a move characterized as “censorship” by the conservative news channel.

A contract expired at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday for Newsmax’s carriage on the satellite provider, which is a joint venture of AT&T Inc. and private equity firm TPG Inc.

“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,” DirecTV said in an emailed statement. 

In an article on its website, Newsmax said channels with fewer viewers get heftier fees from DirecTV than it was seeking.

“This is a blatant act of political discrimination and censorship against Newsmax,” said Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive officer of Newsmax, according to the article.

Republican lawmakers earlier criticized DirecTV’s stance. The company said it is not trying to limit conservative programming. Last year, DirecTV dropped One America News Network, a competitor with Newsmax. 

Much of the Newsmax programming is also available for free online, DirecTV said.

--With assistance from Gerry Smith.

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