WarnerMedia, Discovery Cease All Business Operations in Russia

Warner Bros. Pictures nixing distribution of The Batman in Russia was just the tip of the iceberg. Parent WarnerMedia is reportedly shuttering all business operations in the country (effective today, March 9) in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing military invasion into neighboring Ukraine.

“Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing all new business in Russia,” CEO Jason Kilar wrote in a staff memo. “This includes ceasing broadcast of our channels, halting all new content licensing with Russian entities and pausing our planned theatrical and games releases.”

Separately, Discovery, which is acquiring operational control of WarnerMedia, halted operations of 15 broadcast channels it owns and operates through a joint venture with Russia’s National Media Group.

In addition to joining the global outrage to Putin’s unprovoked military aggression, Discovery and WarnerMedia have joined a growing group of Western media that has ceased operations in Russia due to new government-mandated press restrictions.

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On March 4, Russia’s parliament unanimously voted to punish media organizations reporting news not approved by the Kremlin. Dissemination of so-called “fake news” could be met with a sentence up to 15 years in jail. The new law is aimed at halting news critical of the Ukraine invasion. Putin has called his invasion a “special military operation,” and Russian occupying troops “peacekeepers.”

The censorship law, which is on top of government rules mandating Western media distributors carry 20 Russian government channels, prompted Netflix last week to halt operations in the country.

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