DirecTV, Roku Give RT The Boot

from the ministry-of-truth dept

DirecTV has announced that the company will be removing Russian government-backed news outlet RT from the company’s satellite TV lineup in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to a company statement, DirecTV was already contemplating ditching RT and other channels from the company’s lineup in a bid to lower costs, and simply expedited the decision.

The move comes just a few months after the channel also decided to give conspiracy and propaganda outlet OAN the boot, which itself came not long after press reports revealed that former full DirecTV owner, AT&T, had not only funded the creation of the network, but came up with the idea.

Neither move likely happens if rightward-lurching, Dallas-based AT&T executives remained fully in charge of DirecTV. After AT&T’s disastrous $200 billion effort to dominate the TV and video ad sector with its acquisition of DirecTV and Time Warner, the company has been in full retreat for the last few years, recently spinning off DirecTV in a joint deal with private equity firm TPG Capital.

It’s clear at this point that TPG doesn’t make as many decisions based on random hubris, and it’s been reflected in the direction DirecTV has been headed when it comes to its tolerance for controversial propaganda posing as a news network (even though the company itself may remain doomed as a relic of the traditional television era all the same).

DirecTV was joined by Roku, which also announced it would be removing the channel from their channel list:

Roku and DirecTV were two of the largest providers to carry the channel in the US, along with Dish Networks. When contacted on Tuesday about whether it also planned to drop the channel, Dish spokesperson Caroline Krause told The Verge: “Our thoughts are with all the people of Ukraine, and particularly with our team members in the country. We are closely monitoring the situation.”

Both decisions came in the wake of the EU’s announcement that it would be banning Russian government-backed RT and Sputnik from EU member countries entirely both online and via traditional media (Twitter quickly complied). The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences simultaneously announced that it would be kicking several RT-affiliated executives off of its board of directors.

While RT and Sputnik do occasionally stumble into actual news, both outlets have largely served one function over the better part of the last decade: downplay, ignore, or deny Russia’s increasingly aggressive behavior, whether it’s shooting down airliners, poisoning opponents on foreign soil, hacking elections, waging sustained propaganda campaigns, or invading democratic neighbors.

For a while, the fact that the United States also has a rich history of violence and propaganda (both government and corporation-supported) — seemingly allowed folks to downplay or ignore the role RT and Sputnik play in spreading Putin fan fiction. But as in so many other arenas, Russia’s violent bombing of Ukrainian civilians has completely shifted the tolerance equation.

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Companies: directv

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Comments on “DirecTV, Roku Give RT The Boot”

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PaulT (profile) says:

In anticipation of the usual complaints…

  • No, this isn’t a free speech issue. No evidence has been seen thus far that there was any direct pressure from the government, and there’s no obligation for a provider to carry content that it feel is dangerous. If they support Ukraine (or believe that a significant enough number of the public so to make this a positive marketing move), they’re free to ditch whoever they want so long as it doesn’t break their own contracts.
  • “But whatabout herp derp CNN?”. No matter what you’re told, “both sides” are not always as bad. A channel stating opinions you don’t like is not equivalent to foreign propaganda no matter how much you want to pretend they are. The EU have stated the reasons why RT and Sputnik are different in both formation and content to other news outlets, and someone expressing a different take on an event is not the same as a directly funded and operated Kremlin mouthpiece. The US could stand to clean its own house to some degree on certain issues, especially the different ways certain outlets different in their reporting depending on who’s in the White House – but that’s a job for the government or those outlets, not Roku.
That One Guy (profile) says:

When will it end?

Yet another blatant example of censorship based upon nothing more than a disagreement of opinions, soon no-one will be able to act as the propaganda mouthpiece for a violent government engaged in invading another country and killing of it’s citizens without facing the heinous and totally unfair ‘consequences for your actions’.

Nemo_bis (profile) says:

Re: War propaganda

soon no-one will be able to act as the propaganda mouthpiece for a violent government engaged in invading another country

I don’t know, I wouldn’t bet on the imminent shutdown of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC.

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