CNN To Cease Operations in Russia By Year End

Turner International’s Cable News Network, more well-known today as CNN, announced on Monday, November 10th that it planned to end news gathering and news broadcasting operations in Russia by the end of this year. The firm cited new laws that limits foreign ownership of media businesses operating in Russia.

Statement from Turner International, parent company of CNN

“Turner International is assessing its distribution options for CNN in Russia in light of recent changes in Russian media legislation. We are bringing our existing distribution relationships to an end while we do that. We hope to re-enter the market in due course, and will notify our partners of any update about resuming these services.”

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Tweets from former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul

Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and currently a professor at Stanford University, reacted to  the news by tweeting: “Shocking & sad. Can one really recreate USSR in 21st century?”

“I remember the day when you could first watch CNN in the USSR,” he noted in another tweet. “Now the clocks turn backward. So short-sided & anti-modern & sign of fear.”

CNN the latest media organization to leave Russia

CNN first began broadcasting in Russia in the early 1990s when the Glasnost policies of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev eased the strong government control of the media.

CNN broadcasts have since been seen in Russia both over cable and satellite networks as well as through pay-TV providers.

The Russian newspaper Vedomosti noted that in 2009, Roskomnadzor, the regulatory agency for communications, information technology and mass media, started to crack down on foreign stations operating in Russia and forcing them to apply for a broadcasting license within six months.

Russian media law was amended in 2010 to limit foreign participation in broadcasting operations to 50%. In 2014, the limit was decreased to just 20%.

“Not all broadcasters wanted or have been able to bring their corporate structure into compliance with the law,” the Vedomosti article pointed out.

The article also highlighted that a number of foreign media operations such as Voice of America, Radio France International, Russian Service BBC and Deutsche Welle have started distributing their broadcasts to Russia over the Internet.