Russia’s RT America to Cease Production amid Mounting Financial Pressure
'We anticipate this layoff will be permanent'
Russia’s English-language TV network RT America will cease production and lay off staff amid growing financial pressures, according to reports.
The Moscow-based TV Novosti-owned outlet informed its employees via memo today:
“As a result of unforeseen business interruption events, T&R Productions LLC will be ceasing production and, therefore, must lay off most of its staff who work at all its locations.”
“Unfortunately, we anticipate this layoff will be permanent, meaning that this will result in the permanent separation from employment of most T&R employees at all locations,” wrote T&R Productions’ general manager Mikhail “Misha” Solodovnikov.
The network offered affected employees two months’ severance pay, according to sources.
The news comes after one of the network’s two largest distributors, DirecTV, announced the cancelation of the network’s coverage on Tuesday.
Government officials in the European Union formally banned the network, and Big Tech firms like Apple and Google blocked access to the network’s downloadable app.
The network, which has long been accused of broadcasting Russian propaganda, has also been abandoned by many of its personalities since the outbreak of the Ukraine invasion.
DirecTV had considered dropping RT America before this month’s conflict in eastern Europe.
“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,” the network announced in a statement, adding that its “thoughts are with the people of Ukraine.”
Four of Canada’s major cable providers banished RT from their airwaves over the weekend.
The European Union formally enacted a sanction prohibiting “operators to broadcast or to enable, facilitate or otherwise contribute to broadcast” for RT’s English, U.K., Germany, France, and Spain outlets, as well as another Russian service, Sputnik News.
First, we are shutting down the EU airspace for Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) February 27, 2022
They won’t be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU.
Including the private jets of oligarchs. pic.twitter.com/o551M9zekQ
“The state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, and their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war,” proclaimed Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law fining outlets that repeatedly post “fake news” up to 1.5 million rubles in 2019.
On Monday, Facebook’s Meta Platforms and China’s TikTok announced they would block those sites inside the EU.
Meanwhile, Apple, Microsoft, and Google moved to ban Russian media companies’ apps from their mobile stores.
As The Daily Wire noted:
The U.S. response followed the encouragement of the National Association of Broadcasters. NAB said on Tuesday that, while it is “a fierce defender of the First Amendment and the critical importance of the ability to freely express views, both popular and unpopular,” it was asking broadcasters “to cease carrying any state-sponsored programming with ties to the Russian government or its agents” as proof of their “sound, moral judgment.” The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences — which awards the International Emmys — also removed Solodovnikov from its board of directors on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, RT America’s main production partner, OraTV (which was founded by the late CNN host Larry King and Carlos Slim), announced, “Given the invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, Ora Media has paused production of the content we license to T&R Productions. Future business decisions will be made based on the evolving situation.” In addition to King’s last TV show, OraTV produced such RT America programs as William Shatner’s “I Don’t Understand,” and “Dennis Miller + One.”
Shatner and former Newsmax TV personality Steve Malzberg posted pro-Ukrainian messages on social media in the days before the network announcement.
A slew of journalists and producers quit the network earlier on Thursday after sources said they did not foresee the network’s complete closure and wrestled with whether they, too, would resign.
“In an all-hands meeting Thursday (3/3) at noon, management spared remaining RT-ers the dilemma. We’ve been canceled, by cable/satellite/online distribution platforms,” wrote Holland Cooke, who replaced left-wing talker Thom Hartmann as host of the network’s “The Big Picture.”