Discovery Takes 15 Channels Off Air in Russia
Discovery has suspended all operations in Russia amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Around 15 channels will go off air starting today and 65 staff members will be affected.
“Discovery has decided to suspend the broadcast of its channels and services in Russia,” a spokesperson for the company told Variety. Discovery operates in the country through Media Alliance — a joint venture with National Media Group, which owns Russia’s largest broadcaster, the pro-Kremlin Channel One, and pay-TV company Viasat. Media Alliance is the Russian distributor of Discovery and Turner’s pay-TV channels.
The company joins Netflix, Roku, DIRECTV, CNN, Bloomberg, Disney, YouTube, among a growing number of media companies who are all turning their backs on Russian operations. Also, the NHL paused all business in the country as well as the Olympics and FIFA barring Russia from competitions.
Furthermore, consumer goods behemoths such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks have all halted their businesses in Russia. While Coca-Cola is suspending all operations, McDonald’s and Starbucks are only closing their restaurants and cafes.
According to a survey conducted by the Association of National Advertisers, a quarter of the companies that advertise in Russia have either suspended or reduced their media spending following the invasion of Ukraine.
Aside from the ongoing war, sources indicate that concerns over Russian media censorship are another reason for the suspension sinasce Discovery is a major news player in Europe via its ownership of Poland’s largest news channel, TVN24.
Under the new Russian law, journalists who call the war a “war” could be prosecuted and sentenced to prison. Elsewhere, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle also responded to Russia’s new censorship law by suspending operations in the country. Although the BBC temporarily suspended its journalism from Russia following the announcement of the new censorship law, it has resumed reporting as of Tuesday.
In regards to the global company, the larger question for Discovery is what will become of Media Alliance in the coming weeks? Sources indicate that Discovery lawyers are looking closely at the terms of the joint venture, and a potential exit could occur in the near future. In a filing with the SEC, Discovery said it does not believe that this action will have a material impact on its financial condition or results.
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