DirecTV is cutting ties with RT, the Russia-backed television network infamous for promoting Vladimir Putin’s agenda.
A spokesperson for the US satellite carrier told CNN on Tuesday that the company had already been reviewing whether to renew the outlet’s carriage agreement, which was due for expiration later this year, and that Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine sped up its decision.
“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 DirecTV spokesperson said in a statement.
DirecTV has been one of only two major television providers in the US to carry RT, so its decision, first reported by Axios, deals a major blow to the network’s reach in the country.
DISH (DISH)is the other major television company that carries RT in the US.
A DISH spokesperson declined to say on Monday whether the carrier would take any action against the channel, but voiced support for the people of Ukraine and said DISH is “closely monitoring the situation.”
The action from DirecTV is the latest in a string of moves by television companies and technology giants to sever ties with the channel, reducing the Kremlin’s ability to peddle its narrative at a pivotal time when its international standing has fallen.
YouTube, TikTok, and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, each separately announced on Monday and Tuesday that they have blocked RT’s social media accounts in Europe. Roku, the company that sells hardware which allows users to stream content through the internet, said that it would also bar RT in Europe.
Outside the US, television providers in other countries have severed ties with RT.
Two of Canada’s largest television providers, Rogers Communications and Bell Canada, said Monday that they have made the decision to remove the channel from their lineups, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
1+1 Media Group, a Ukrainian media conglomerate, said Monday that it had written a joint letter with other Ukrainian media companies to television and other providers imploring them to scrub Russian news channels from their services.
“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. “As of 26 February they have started the turning off of the propagandistic TV channels on their satellites, cable networks and across other platforms and sources.”
Ofcom, the UK media regulator, said Monday 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 in a statement.
RT is an international media organization that first launched in 2005. It provides updates and analysis on current events from a stridently pro-Russian point of view. RT operates nine networks, including RT America, and the video news agency Ruptly.
Since its inception, RT has been criticized as a propaganda mouthpiece for the Russian government and its leader, Vladimir Putin. In recent weeks, the outlet has come under heightened scrutiny for its coverage of Russia’s conflict, which has escalated into an unprovoked war, with Ukraine.
RT has also aired sharp criticisms of the US government and promoted conspiracy theories that sow distrust in its institutions. Nevertheless, some high-profile US figures have chosen to work for the organization, such as the late Larry King.
Over the years, some staffers have publicly quit the network, such as when former anchor Liz Wahl stunned viewers and resigned her position in 2014 live on-air. Several staffers have publicly quit the network in recent days as well, including the longtime host Anissa Naouai, who posted on Instagram that she was “done being a pawn for imperialism.”