Netflix in Russia has to send propaganda – but the group is resisting

By law: As of today, Netflix must also broadcast propaganda in Russia – but the group is resisting

According to local law, Netflix must become a TV broadcaster in Russia

© Andre M. Chang / / Picture Alliance

As of today, according to Russian law, Netflix must also have state TV channels in its program. Thus, the Kremlin’s war propaganda will be spread. The reason is an internationally unknown law.

In the Russian state media, the situation is clear: Ukraine is an aggressor, Russia is only on the defensive with its own forces and wants to ensure peace. According to Russian law, this message was already supposed to be streamed on Netflix from today.

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The streaming service was informed in December that the new regulations would take effect on March 1, an operations official confirmed star. As a result, the media regulator Roskomnadzor informed the company that it is obliged to include 20 Russian TV channels in its program as well as several series and films. And operate them directly to customers. However, the group is resisting. “In light of the current situation, we are not planning to add these TV channels to our offering,” a company spokeswoman said when asked.

It’s not pure advertising

20 Channels is a colorful mix of sports, entertainment and news channels. The latter in particular may have made implementation more difficult for Netflix in the current situation. The Kremlin has issued clear instructions on how to cover the conflict in Ukraine. According to Novaya Gazet, the use of the word “war” was banned, and the Kremlin ordered that individual reports from various media be removed again. This would make Netflix a propaganda tool for the Russian government.

In theory, the regulation doesn’t just affect Netflix. According to the regulation, also known in Russia as Vitrina TV Law, each audio or video show with more than 100,000 viewers in Russia must also offer 20 mandatory channels. Netflix is ​​only the first among modern streaming providers to cross that limit, according to company circles. Netflix doesn’t want to officially reveal its subscriber rise nearly a year after its launch in Russia, but according to a person familiar with the numbers, that number is less than a million subscriptions in the country. There is no office in Russia for the live streaming service and no local staff.

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It’s also possible that Netflix’s rejection is related to the reactions on social media. As soon as the first message about the upcoming regulation appeared, many users announced their willingness to cancel their subscription if Netflix was to submit to the Russian propaganda machine. In light of Netflix’s rather small Russian community, the group may have a financial incentive to not comply with the regulation, even apart from its own political assessment of the conflict.

Netflix as a TV channel

Even without the war in Ukraine, fulfilling Russia’s special orders would undoubtedly have been a challenge for Netflix. There are no direct formats with the streaming service, all series, movies and documentaries can only be accessed in a pre-produced stream form. Only for Russia, the group will have to question the whole concept and install a way to pass through a classic TV station.

source: Netflix, The Wall Street Journal


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