Turner pulling CNN channel in Russia

CNN will cease broadcasting in Russia at the end of the year, citing “recent changes in Russian media legislation.”

In a statement, the network’s parent company Turner International said is was “assessing its distribution options for CNN in Russia” in light of the new regulations, and added” “We are bringing our existing distribution relationships to an end while we do that.”

It added that its CNN Moscow bureau will remain open and that it hopes to “re-enter the market in due course”.

Russian news agency TASS reported yesterday that Russian pay TV providers including Vimpelcom, NTV+ and Akado had received letters notifying them that Turner would cease broadcasting CNN International in Russia from December 31.

Russia’s communications ministry denied that the country’s recently passed mass media law would block international news channels. In a statement published by Russian business news agency PRIME, the ministry said: “The law allows foreign news channels to broadcast on the Russian territory, for which legal forms and ways are provided.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin last month signed an amendment to the country’s media law that will limit foreign ownership of media companies in Russia to 20%, down from the current limit of 50%. The legislation will apply to both existing and future foreign ownership and comes into effect in January 2016.

However, separate legislation passed this year will also amend the country’s law on advertising, banning pay TV channels from carrying ads.

Under the new rules, all channels that are available exclusively on a pay basis, as well as those that can only be accessed using a TV decoder are included in the ad-ban, with the exception of national state-controlled channels. The law is due to come into effect in January.

According to figures recently compiled by trade magazine Cableman, up to 54 Russian TV channels could close as a result of the new Federal law banning pay TV services from carrying advertising.

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