DirecTV Severs Contract With Russian State-Sponsored Propaganda Channel RT America

DirecTV, has decided to drop RT America, the U.S. version of Russia’s state-controlled media channel, effective immediately in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Per Axios, DirecTV (which is owned by AT&T) had already been looking at whether to renew its contract with RT America, which was set to expire this year. But current events accelerated the process, with the company saying in a statement, “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.”

Along with DirecTV’s decision, the National Association of Broadcasters issued a statement Tuesday, March 1, urging its members to stop airing state-sponsored Russia programming (via Deadline). “While the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, however, it does not prevent private actors from exercising sound, moral judgment,” said NAB President Curtis LeGeyt. “To that end, given the unprovoked aggression exhibited by Russia against the free and sovereign people of Ukraine, NAB calls on broadcasters to cease carrying any state-sponsored programming with ties to the Russian government or its agents.”

The mounting pressure to cut off RT America and other outlets in America comes as providers and distributors take action across Europe. Roku, for instance, pulled RT in Europe (it’s still available on Roku in the U.S.), while Google, TikTok, Facebook, and Microsoft are also restricting access to Russian state-owned outlets after a European Commission ban on “the Kremlin’s media machine.”

Meanwhile, on the ground in Ukraine, Russia is literally taking aim at Ukraine’s media capabilities: Per The New York Times, a projectile hit the main radio and television tower in Kyiv Tuesday, with other explosions detected in the area. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at least five people were killed. Additionally, the damage done to the tower temporarily forced Ukrainian television channels off the air.

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