Streaming Services Take Steps To Counter `Russian Propaganda’
The conflict in Ukraine entered the streaming services arena this week with word that Netflix and YouTube will remove any content they deem to be “Russian propaganda” from their services in certain regions.
Netflix — which launched in Russia just over a year ago and has under one million subscribers there, according to the Wall Street Journal — announced through a spokesman that it refuses to comply with a Russian broadcast rule to take effect Tuesday requiring all TV services in Russia carry certain local channels that may include state propaganda.
Furthermore, the global OTT streaming giant said it has no plan to cease its service in the country.
Meanwhile, Google’s YouTube service announced it would oblige requests from the European Union and certain countries to remove Russian OTT channels RT and Sputnik from its service distributed in Europe and the U.K.
The Russian carriage mandate reportedly demanded streaming services providing service in that country to distribute as many as 20 local news, sports and entertainment channels, according to the Wall Street Journal report. Netflix is one of the only international service providers deployed in Russia with an audience large enough to come under the mandate.
The law is applicable to any audio/video service distributed in Russia that reaches more than 100,000 subscribers. A Netflix spokesperson refused to comment to the press on whether Netflix had told Russian officials about its decision.
Russian communication rules are reportedly censoring any local reporting on the Ukraine conflict that says Russia is engaged in an assault, invasion, declaration of war or any sort of targeting of Ukraine’s citizens.
“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” Netflix stated.
In a related action, Google-owned YouTube has banned Russian state-owned media outlets RT and Sputnik’s channels from distribution over its service in Europe and the U.K. The action follows requests from the European Union and various countries there.
Representatives from both channels are fighting the action and have denied they deliver or promote any propaganda from the Russian government.
YouTube said the ban was to take effect immediately, although it could take some time to be fully implemented.
As for the United States, YouTube continued to carry here Tuesday both the U.S. versions of the RT and Sputnik channels, although YouTube flags the start of any programming they carry with a disclaimer that the channels are “funded in whole or in part by the Russian government.”
Facebook parent company Meta reportedly has also blocked both media organizations.
In addition, DirecTV announced Tuesday that it will no longer carry RT America’s programming as a result of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
“In line with our previous agreement with RT America, we are accelerating this year’s contract expiration timeline and will no longer offer their programming effective immediately,” DirecTV said in a statement.
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By Greg Tarr
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