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Discovery, WarnerMedia and Amazon have joined the growing media boycott of Russia, suspending all its operations in the country amid Russia’s invasion and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“Discovery has decided to suspend the broadcast of its channels and services in Russia,” a Discovery spokesperson said Wednesday.
The around 15 channels Discovery operates in Russia as part of a joint venture with Russia’s National Media Group, were pulled off air on Wednesday.
WarnerMedia made a similar decision.
In a memo to staff Wednesday, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said that in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the company “is pausing all new business in Russia.” That move includes “ceasing broadcast of our channels, halting all new content licensing with Russian entities, and pausing our planned theatrical and games releases,” per Kilar’s memo.
In other words, WarnerMedia’s TV channels and its upcoming films will not be available in Russia for the foreseeable future. However, Kilar added that “we are following this situation closely and future business decisions will be made with that context in mind.”
Amazon, meanwhile, has suspended shipment of products to customers in Russia, and will not take any new Amazon Web Services clients in the country. “We are also suspending access to Prime Video for customers based in Russia, and we will no longer be taking orders for New World, which is the only video game we sell directly in Russia,” the company said in a statement.
The move follows a similar boycott by CNN, the BBC and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and is in response to Russia’s new censorship law, passed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, March 4. U.S. and European sanctions have also made it difficult to operate in the country.
The law, ostensibly designed to prevent the spread of “false information” about Russia’s military, makes it a criminal offense for broadcasters in Russia to call the war in Ukraine a “war” and allows for punishment of up to 15 years in prison for violations.
The boycott could impact Discovery’s agreement with National Media Group, Russia’s leading TV company, which owns Russia’s largest broadcaster, the pro-Kremlin Channel One. Discovery operates in Russia through Media Alliance, a joint venture with National Media Group which also handles the carriage of Turner Network’s portfolio of pay-TV channels in the territory.
Netflix, on March 6, also suspended its operations in Russia after refusing government demands to carry a suite of pro-government propaganda channels on its service. A separate media law requires all broadcasters or streamers in Russia with more than 100,000 viewers or subscribers to carry the 20 pro-government channels. Netflix is the only western streaming service big enough in Russia to come under the auspices of the new regulation.
Worldwide, companies and nations are stepping up their sanctions on Russia to protest the war in Ukraine. The U.S. has banned the import of Russian oil and gas, McDonald’s and Starbucks have shut down their restaurants and cafes in Russia and Coca-Cola is suspending all operations in the country.
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