Television Business International

Sony forced to cede control of Russian channels

Sony Pictures Television has offloaded 80% of its Russian channels operation to comply with new foreign ownership laws in the country.

Vladimir KhanumyanSPT is the latest international channels group to be hit by the Russian media regulations, which restrict non-Russian companies to small stakes in channels.

Accordingly, SPT has offloaded 80% of its Russian portfolio to Media Logica, which is run by Russian TV industry veteran Vladimir Khanumyan (pictured). 

Sony runs three channels in Russia: Sony Sci-Fi, Sony Entertainment Television and Sony Turbo.

Khanumyan worked for CTC Media, the Russian channels group that the Modern Times Group is in the throes of offloading, for over a decade until 2008.

He has also been at former Ren TV parent company NMG, which recently formed a partnership with Discovery Communications that enabled it to comply with the foreign ownership restrictions.

Khanumyan has also been CEO of ProfMedia, the TV and film company owned by state utility business Gazprom.

Media Logica is Khanumyan’s own business and will now control the Sony channels in Russia.

Culver City-based Sony confirmed the changes to its Russian business to TBI this morning. “We have adjusted the ownership structure of our Russian channels business to reflect the recent law change,” it said in a statement. “The day-to-day operation of the Sony channels will be unaffected.”

SPT will retain the 20% share in the channels permitted by local law.