DirecTV drops Russian-backed RT amid Ukraine invasion

(Image credit: FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images)

DirecTV is officially taking the Russian-backed network RT off the air.

Amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the company said Tuesday it will no longer offer the channel RT America.

"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 company said, per Axios.

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It was a "major blow to the network's reach in" the United States, CNN noted, as DirecTV was one of only two major U.S. carriers that offered RT. The other is DISH, which hasn't said whether it may also drop RT, but a company spokesperson told CNN that it's "closely monitoring the situation."

Earlier on Tuesday, Google announced it would block YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe effective immediately. "Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action," Google Europe said. Meta also announced it was blocking the Russian-backed channels across the European Union "given the exceptional nature of the current situation," and the National Association of Broadcasters on Tuesday called on broadcasters to drop any Russian state-sponsored programing. "We believe that our nation must stand fully united against misinformation and for freedom and democracy across the globe," the group said.

In the U.K, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week that the media regulator Ofcom was reviewing RT's broadcast license. Opposition leader Keir Starmer argued it should not be allowed on television, saying, "Russia Today is [Vladimir Putin's] personal propaganda tool. I can see no reason why it should be allowed to continue to broadcast in this country." On Monday, Ofcom said it had opened "15 new investigations into the due impartiality of" RT, with Ofcom Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes saying, "Given the scale and gravity of the crisis in Ukraine, audiences expect to be able to trust and rely on duly impartial broadcast news."

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