CNN to End Distribution in Russia

CNN Building - P 2014
AP Images

CNN Building - P 2014

The U.S. network will end broadcasting in the country by Dec. 31

CNN is set to cease distribution in Russia at the end of the year, Turner Broadcasting confirmed Monday. 

"Turner International is assessing its distribution options for CNN in Russia in light of recent changes in Russian media legislation," a Turner spokesperson said in a statement. "We are bringing our existing distribution relationships to an end while we do that. We hope to re-enter the market in due course, and will notify our partners of any update about resuming these services. The CNN Moscow bureau operation remains unaffected."

Russian newspaper Vedomosti and news agency TASS reported that CNN will end broadcasting Dec. 31 of this year.

The reports cited a letter sent from Turner Broadcasting System Europe to the country's television operators that notifies them of the change.

CNN's move was apparently triggered by a bill that President Vladimir Putin signed into law this July. Under the bill, commercials on Russian pay TV will be banned as of Jan. 1, 2015.

Although the law was not as highly publicized as a more recent piece of legislation restricting foreign ownership of media companies to 20 percent stakes, it is set to have a much more serious impact on Russia's broadcasting industry as all local and foreign TV networks operating via satellite or cable will have to comply.

The rationale behind the law was that equal conditions for pay-TV networks — which collect revenues from both subscriptions and advertisements, and free-to-air stations, which only rely on commercials for revenues — should be created.

Networks criticized the law, complaining that revenues generated from subscriptions wouldn't be sufficient for their profitable operations.

The government later explained that in order to be exempt from the new regulation, a station has to have a free-to-air broadcasting license in at least one of the country's regions. So far, the only major network that purchased a free-to-air frequency is the local station Life News.

Nov. 10, 2:10 p.m. Updated with additional information throughout.