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WarnerMedia, Discovery, Amazon Prime Video suspend Russian business

WarnerMedia, Discovery and Amazon Prime Video have become the latest entertainment companies to pause operations in Russia in light of the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Discovery, which operates roughly 15 channels in Russia through a deal with Moscow-based National Media Group, said all those channels would go dark due to the ongoing aggression towards Ukraine.

“Discovery has decided to suspend the broadcast of its channels and services in Russia,” said a Discovery representative.

Jason Kilar

Meanwhile, a memo from WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said the company is “pausing all new business in Russia” as part of a move that includes ceasing the broadcast of its channels, suspending all new content licensing with Russian entities and hitting pause on planned theatrical and games releases.

“We are following this situation closely and future business decisions will be made with that context in mind,” added Kilar.

Amazon also confirmed that it is suspending its Prime Video service as part of a larger move that will see it pause the shipment of any products to Russia.

Companies across the TV industry have temporarily suspended business in Russia since its invasion of Ukraine commenced two weeks ago.

On Sunday Netflix confirmed that it was suspending its service in Russia, a decision that came on the heels of its decision to pause future projects and acquisitions from Russia.

A swathe of other companies such as Banijay, ZDF Enterprises, BBC Studios, All3Media, ITV Studios, Fremantle, YouTube and TikTok have frozen business activities with Russian companies, in addition to B2B industry organisations including C21 and Brunico Communications. Natpe has also called a halt to Russian business while the invasion continues.

Earlier this week Japanese pubcaster NHK’s international English language television service, NHK World-Japan, was taken off air in Russia.

Draconian laws threatening up to 15 years in prison for spreading what Vladimir Putin’s regime has branded inaccurate information about the war were recently introduced, leaving the local contractor no choice but to pull NHK’s offering and others like it.

The service had been available to around 18 million households via satellite, cable TV and IPTV distributors. NHK World-Japan continues to deliver news and information to Russia on the internet and overseas radio service.

Elsewhere LADstudios, the data-driven factual entertainment division of LADbible Group, is to produce a raft of content dedicated to sharing reliable, informative and supportive content focused on the war in Ukraine.

Lens On: Ukraine will play across the company’s two core brands LADbible and UNILAD and feature a range of short- and mid-form factual content including exclusive interviews with journalists and refugees in Ukraine as well as with Ukrainian people situated in the UK.

Content will include animated explainers, vox pops and clips from contributors on the ground in Kyiv and other conflict zones covering events on TikTok. Other films will share perspectives from Ukrainian expats returning to the country to fight, citizens braced for the invasion in different parts of the country, Ukrainian sports stars involved in the conflict and thoughts of Russia anti-war contributors.

LADbible Group has also launched the ‘Lens On: Ukraine’ campaign where each piece of content produced for the initiative will feature links to The British Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal website, where viewers can donate funds.

Finally, in the US, Kids Entertainment Professional for Young Refugees (KEPYR) is calling on the kids media industry to help bring urgent aid to more than 1.5 million children and their families displaced by the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding by donating to its fund.

UNICEF has launched an emergency appeal to raise US$276m to sufficiently scale up relief efforts across Ukraine. In addition, UNICEF is also appealing for another US$73m to assist those fleeing to Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary and elsewhere. Donations to KEPYR’s Emergency Ukraine Refugee Relief campaign will go to support UNICEF’s appeal.

“The situation is dire, the humanitarian need growing daily. The suffering, shock and trauma is almost unimaginable,” said Grant Moran, president and founder of KEPYR. “Luckily, thanks to organisations like UNICEF USA, we can take action. Acting together, we can make an immediate, concrete difference and be a force of light against the terrible darkness these vulnerable children and their families are living through right now. We encourage everyone in the children’s media community to give generously.”


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