Russia's Channel One Fails to License BBC Show Due to Western Sanctions

Russia Foreign Ministry Building Moscow - H - 2015
Associated Press

The network planned a Russian version of the gymnastics show "Tumble."

BBC Worldwide has declined to sell a license to produce a Russian version of the television show Tumble because of Western sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine and Crimea, Forbes Russia reported.

The report quoted several unnamed sources at the production company Red Square, which was expected to produce the show, and the state-controlled network Channel One, which was supposed to air it, as saying that the decision was caused by the European Union's sanctions imposed on Russia last year following its annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian rebels in East Ukraine.

The show was supposed to be hosted by former star gymnast Alina Kabaeva.

The failure to obtain a license for the show, in which celebrities compete in gymnastics, comes as the first publicly known instance of the sanctions affecting the Russian film and TV industry.

The decision not to license the show was caused by the fact that entrepreneurs Arkady Rotenberg, who owns Red Square, and Yury Kovalchuk, who holds a 25-percent stake in Channel One, are on the list of individuals affected by Western sanctions.

Last year, there were reports that sanctions could also be introduced against state-run Russian TV networks, including Channel One, but that never happened.

To replace Tumbler's Russian version, Channel One plans to produce an original show under the title Bez Strakhovki (Without a Safety Net), featuring celebrities performing acrobatic stunts and gymnastic events.