RT America is shutting down its operations as announced by multiple media outlets, as both Silicon Valley and the European Union move to restrict people’s access to Russian government-affiliated media. This comes as social media companies are blocking access to RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik in Europe. RT America previously faced trouble when it was forced to register as a “Foreign Agent.”
The production company behind RT America, T&R Productions, announced Thursday it was permanently shutting down operations, leaving many employees out of a job. A memo obtained by CNN states that the decision to cease operation was based on “unforeseen business interruption events.” According to one employee, the news was met with sadness, with some people observed crying.
“We anticipate this layoff will be permanent, meaning that this will result in the permanent separation from employment of most T&R employees at all locations.”Misha Solodovnikov. General Manager
That means that RT America will cease to exist. It is unclear if other bureaus of RT plan on shutting down. In 2017, RT America was forced to register as “Foreign Agent,” due to accusations of engaging in “election interference” and spreading of “Russian propaganda.” It is not clear what specifically motivated RT America to shut down, as the company has faced numerous hurdles over the years. However some have speculated RT America may have trouble accessing funding due to sanctions.
Meanwhile in Europe, the EU has moved to take both RT and Sputnik off the air and off the internet, recently levying tough sanctions against the outlets. According to Politico:
The EU’s exceptional move is far-reaching and covers any means of transmission or distribution, such as cable, satellite, Internet Protocol television, internet service providers, video-sharing platforms and applications carrying content from RT and Sputnik. Licenses, authorizations and distribution agreements will also be suspended.
The sanctions target Sputnik as well as five legal entities of RT, formerly known as Russia Today: RT English, RT UK, RT DE for German-language reports, RT France and RT en Español for Spanish-language reports.
Google and Apple have removed the RT and Sputnik apps from their stores. The EU and Silicon Valley are working to effectively censor and silence Russian-state news outlets, an unprecedented move. Former RT host Abby Martin was one of the many people that spoke out in defence of the news outlet, pushing aside criticism and stating she had editorial freedom while hosting her show. “The cartoonish depiction of the network is false and it’s grotesque to cheer on censorship of voices that need exposure.”
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