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Netflix says it will not carry Russian state television channels, which the streamer could be required to host under Russian law beginning in March.
“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” offered a Netflix spokesperson in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
In December, the country’s communications regulator added Netflix to its “audiovisual services” sector, requiring Netflix’s Russian service to comply with regulations that apply to broadcasters and channels with more than 100,000 daily users. These include Russia’s main free-to-air channels, among the state-owned Channel One, and cable networks, including Spas, a channel run by Russia’s Orthodox Church. Under a new law, set to come into force on March 1, all such “audiovisual services” will be required to carry 20 major Russian federal television channels, many of which carry pro-Putin propaganda.
It is unclear how Netflix plans to defy the law and what impact it will have on its Russian service. Netflix has big plans for Russia, having greenlit its first-ever Russian original series, Anna K., a modern-day retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel Anna Karenina, and with several local-language series and films in the pipeline. Netflix declined to comment when asked by THR if the war in Ukraine would impact their expansion plans in Russia.
Netflix’s defiance of Moscow comes as other tech giants like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (and parent company Meta) are weighing what to do with their operations in Russia in order to mitigate disinformation and propaganda. Meta has paused ad monetization for Russian state media and announced on Sunday evening it had taken down dozens of fake accounts spreading misinformation about Ukraine across its platforms. Twitter is labeling all content from Russian government-owned media sites and has previously banned ads from state-owned media outlets.
J. Clara Chan contributed to this report.
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