In December, the Russian communications regulator added Netflix to the “audiovisual services” register, and asked the platform to comply.
The regulations that apply to broadcasters and channels with more than 100,000 daily users.
The platform (222 million subscribers worldwide) that launched the local language service in Russia just over a year ago, has less than 1 million subscribers.
The laws governing the media have not yet entered into force, although according to recent reports they could take effect starting today, 1 March.
Audiovisual services in Russia
By law, all of these “audiovisual services” will have to show 20 major Russian federal television channels in the clear and also avoid promoting “extremism”. Netflix did not provide channels with linear programming, such as Roku, Peacock, Pluto TV . It is unclear whether Roskomnadzor requires linear streaming for these channels or the provision of their on-demand programming.
In the list of broadcasters we find the state Channel One ; the NTV entertainment network ; of cable networks, including Spas , a channel operated by the Russian Orthodox Church. Many broadcasters offer pro-Putin propaganda content .
Netflix claims it will not show Russian state television channels, a spokesperson said:
“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service.”
It is unclear how Netflix plans to defy the law, although media restriction may not be at the top of Russia’s priority list at the moment, and what impact it will have on its Russian service.
THR asked Netflix if the war in Ukraine would impact its expansion plans in Russia. The platform did not want to respond.
The other social networks and Russia
YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (and parent company Meta ) are considering what to do with their operations in Russia in order to mitigate disinformation and propaganda.
Meta paused ad monetization for Russian state media and announced Sunday evening that it had eliminated dozens of fake accounts spreading disinformation about Ukraine across its platforms.
Twitter is tagging all content from Russian government-owned media sites and previously banned ads from state-owned media.
Netflix’s plans for Russia
Netflix had kicked off its first Russian original series, Anna K. , a modern take on Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina .
Also there are several local language series and films in the pipeline.