RT goes dark in SA after global distributor cuts feed

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Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)


Russian state-backed channel Russia Today, also known as RT, is no longer available on South African airwaves.

MultiChoice on Thursday night confirmed to News24 that the channel, which was available on DStv 407, "shall not be carried on the DStv platform until further notice".

In a statement to the media, SA's leading entertainment company said: "Sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union (EU) has led to the global distributor of the channel ceasing to provide the broadcast feed to all suppliers, including MultiChoice”.

RT was also no longer available on Telkom's TelkomONE streaming platform. Telkom couldn't immediately be reached for comment. 

The EU announced on Sunday that it will ban the Russian state-backed channels RT and Sputnik in an unprecedented move against the Kremlin media machine.

The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) confirmed that it had received multiple complaints about the channel airing in South Africa following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Worldwide 

Australia's biggest pay-TV operator Foxtel also removed RT on Sunday as a linear TV channel and from its streaming service. "In view of concern about the situation in Ukraine, the Russia Today channel is currently unavailable on Foxtel and Flash," Foxtel said in a statement. 

Canada's two biggest pay-TV services, Rogers Communications and Bell Canada both announced on Monday that they're dropping RT completely. 

America's DirectTV on Monday announced that it's removing RT "and will no longer offer their programming effective immediately". 

The 1+1 Media Group, a Ukrainian media conglomerate, on Monday said they wrote to media companies worldwide, asking them to stop transmitting Russian channels like RT.  

"More than 20 local providers from Poland, Australia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Canada, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Germany, as well as representatives of international corporations have already responded to the request," 1+1 Media Group said in a press release on Monday. 

YouTube also blocked RT from generating any advertising revenue from any of its content placed on Google’s video streaming service.

"In light of extraordinary circumstances in Ukraine, we're taking a number of actions,” Michael Aciman, global communications and public affairs manager at Google, said in a statement.  

"We're pausing a number of channels' ability to monetize on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions. We will be significantly limiting recommendations to these channels. And in response to a government request, we've restricted access to RT and a number of other channels in Ukraine."

In the United Kingdom where RT still remains on the air, that country's broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, on Monday announced in a statement that it had "opened 15 new investigations into the due impartiality of news programs on the RT news channel." 

"We have observed a significant increase in the number of programs on the RT service that warrant investigation under our Broadcasting Code," Ofcom said.

On Wednesday Ofcom announced that it has added a further 12 investigations into RT, bringing the total number to 27. 

"We are very concerned by the volume of programmes on RT that are raising potential issues under the Broadcasting Code, and as we progress our investigations we are considering whether RT should retain a U.K. license," Ofcom said in a statement late on Wednesday. 

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