Sky Television has stopped broadcasting Russia Today in the wake of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and criticism of the Russian state-controlled channel.
RT is still listed on Sky’s menu, but with the message that it is “currently unavailable”.
Sky spokeswoman Chris Major said Sky had decided to suspend showing RT “in light of the rapidly unfolding situation in Ukraine”.
“As a responsible broadcaster, we take great care to ensure we comply with the Code of Broadcasting Standards. We have had ongoing dialogue with the BSA over the past few days, and have received complaints from a number of customers,” she said.
“The BSA has also warned all broadcasters of the need for particular care when reporting on crises. As we have no editorial control over RT, we have taken the step of suspending the broadcast of RT while we continue to assess the news content against the New Zealand broadcasting standards.”
Sky TV declined on Friday to say whether it had been being paid to carry the channel, which has been labelled Kremlin propaganda by the British government and which faces a possible ban there.
It had been the only continental European news channel carried by Sky TV in New Zealand.
Sky TV chief executive Sophie Moloney appeared to defend Sky’s carriage of RT on Thursday, saying it “all came down to customer choice”.
“There is some content that doesn’t appeal to me. It may appeal to others,” Moloney said then, while also saying it was “more on alert in terms of this channel and its delivery into New Zealand homes”.
Moloney made those comments before Sky was questioned by Stuff, and declined to provide an answer, on whether it was paid to carry the channel.
Australian pay-TV firm Foxtel also removed RT from its line-up on Saturday, citing the situation in Ukraine.
The Broadcasting Standards Authority wrote to broadcasters on Friday to “remind them” of its guidelines for covering crises, saying it had done so in light of the Ukrainian crisis and the escalating Omicron outbreak.
It also said it was ready to fast-track complaints about media coverage of the invasion of Ukraine. Stuff