Netflix says it won't carry likely Russian propaganda channels despite local laws

Netflix on iPhone X
Netflix on iPhone X (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Netflix says it won't be streaming 20 Russian TV channels despite a law that might require it.
  • Streamers with more than 100,000 customers in Russia are required to offer the channels.
  • Netflix told Variety that it won't be streaming the channels "given the current situation."

Netflix says that it won't be adding the 20 free-to-air channels that local Russian law could require it to after surpassing the 100,000-subscriber mark.

The growth of Netflix in Russia means that it is now large enough to be required by law to carry the free-to-air channels that offer sports, news, and entertainment, according to a Variety report. Netflix was added to the list of outfits that must stream the content in December of last year, although it wasn't thought that the law would actually kick in until tomorrow — March 1.

However, Netflix tells Variety that it won't be doing so given Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Many of the TV channels that Netflix would need to stream are thought to offer propaganda for the Kremlin.

The channels include Channel One, NTV and Spa, a channel operated by the Russian Orthodox Church. Channel One is understood to be aligned with the Kremlin and likely to broadcast Putin propaganda, Variety understands."Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service," a Netflix spokesperson told Variety.

Russia hasn't said what it would do if Russia did indeed require the channels be offered as part of local laws from March 1.

While Apple TV+ doesn't share subscriber numbers, it isn't beyond the realms of possibility that this is a scenario that the streamer could also fall into — although hopefully under different circumstances.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.