MultiChoice Group said it will not pull the plug on RT (previously Russia Today), the state-owned and state-funded Russian television news station, despite demands by governments and technology companies in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere to do so.
The JSE-listed pay-television operator said it doesn’t “own or have editorial control over the programming on these channels,” despite carrying the Gupta-owned ANN7 channel for years (referring to the channels it carries on its DStv bouquets).
According to reports, the operator allowed the ANN7 contract to expire without cancellation, although calls were made at the time to terminate it early.
The decision by MultiChoice to keep the RT channel on DStv comes as the governing party is undecided over how to respond to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was said to be enraged by the decision of his international relations and cooperation minister, Naledi Pandor, to issue a statement asking for Russia’s soldiers to leave Ukraine. The ANC, which has historical ties with Russia in the battle against apartheid, has refused to criticise the invasion of Ukraine or speak out against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressiveness since Ramaphosa insisted on mediation to resolve the matter.
Although MultiChoice has stated that it will not take action against RT, many other firms – and governments – have.
On Monday, the EU moved to ban RT and Sputnik, another Russian government-owned news channel, from the European airwaves. The restriction reportedly extends to the broadcasters’ online channels, including smartphone applications.
Meanwhile, Google’s YouTube has announced that it will stop running advertisements by Russian state-owned media. The restrictions apply to all accounts, including RT and others.
According to BMA Sources, it would also limit how its system suggests those videos to users.
Twitter announced that it had begun adding warning labels to tweets, alerting users to all links from Russian state-owned media outlets and other accounts affiliated to the Russian government.
Meanwhile, Meta Platforms have opted to restrict Russian state media’s capacity to reach European Union residents through its platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to comply with EU requirements.