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Icasa asks why Russian news channel RT has been removed from DStv

02 March 2022 - 21:11
MultiChoice says Russian TV station RT won't be broadcast on its DStv platform until further notice.
MultiChoice says Russian TV station RT won't be broadcast on its DStv platform until further notice.
Image: 123RF/Marco Ciannarel

Russian state-owned TV channel RT was no longer available on DStv from Wednesday, with MultiChoice saying this was as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union.

“MultiChoice confirms that as of today, March 2 2022, RT (Channel 407) shall not be carried on the DStv platform until further notice.

“Sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union has led to the global distributor of the channel ceasing to provide the broadcast feed to all suppliers, including MultiChoice,” a spokesperson for MultiChoice said.

RT was formerly known as Russia Today.

Meanwhile, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) wants to know why the decision was taken to remove the channel without the authority being informed.

“Our licensing and compliance division has not received any notification by MultiChoice confirming the discontinuation of the channel on its DStv platform,” said Icasa chair Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng, who added that it was in the public interest to know the reasons for the decision.

“Given the underlying principle of the South African broadcasting system for promoting plurality of views, it is only prudent for Icasa to inquire with DStv on the rationale for the discontinuation of the RT channel,” said Modimoeng.

Icasa said that the broadcast of RT on DStv was a commercial agreement between the subscription TV broadcaster, MultiChoice, and RT.

The EFF was also critical of the decision by MultiChoice, which it described as “censorship” and “unilateral”.

“In a move that undermines both press freedom and the rights of consumers who pay for the DStv service, MultiChoice has chosen which news outlets consumers must watch and dictated what content must be watched, based on their allegiance in a complex conflict in Europe. This is a classic move by imperialist-aligned entities, who want to monopolise what people think and be the sole custodians of a narrative which requires balanced and fair reporting,” the party said.

The party said that the pay TV service failed to pull other news channels from the air when Western countries were involved in other conflicts.

“The censoring of RT is nothing but an attempt to shut down a contending narrative to news outlets that have been complicit in genocide in the developing world. We demand the immediate reinstatement of RT, and not this condescending move which seeks to force feed a one-sided narrative on the conflict between Ukraine, Russia and nations which belong to the hypocritical Nato,” the EFF said.

PODCAST | Russia-Ukraine conflict: SA and other developing countries 'don’t have to take sides'

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