EU sanctions prohibiting EU-based satellite operators carrying Russia Today kicked in earlier today. Shortly after 1pm (UK time), the process of removing Russia Today’s presence on Eutelsat’s Hot Bird satellite system and SES-owned Astra began.
Hot Bird is the main means of distributing the channel across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Astra provides the feeds for Sky/Freesat. The effect of the gradual switch-off of these satellite services would be felt in various countries, including the UK, during the afternoon.
At around 1.15pm, the SD version of Russia Today disappeared off the Sky platform:
When the SD feed of the channel was shut down, Sky’s EPG system automatically moved the HD version of the channel from position 511 to 885.
At around 3.40pm, Russia Today HD disappeared from Sky. Ten minutes later, Freeview viewers were reporting the loss of the SD service.
An hour later – at 4.50pm – the Russia Today HD service disappeared from Freeview.
Although Ofcom is currently investigating Russia Today for potential breaches of the Broadcasting Code, neither Ofcom nor Freeview transmission operator Arqiva had anything to do with the disappearance of the channel from Freeview today.
Incidentally, Ofcom issued a statement this evening saying that it had opened a further 12 investigations into Russia Today, which brings the total number of RT programmes under investigation to 27.
“We are very concerned by the volume of programmes on RT that are raising potential issues under the Broadcasting Code, and as we progress our investigations we are considering whether RT should retain a UK licence.”
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