Russian-backed RT channel disappears from Bangladesh

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Russia’s state-controlled international television network Russia Today (RT) has disappeared from all broadcast platforms in Bangladesh.

TV viewers have complained that they have not been able to watch the channel for the last four days.

Masum Mollah, from Rampura, said he and his family had been following the Russia-Ukraine war on RT since it began.

However, the channel suddenly stopped being broadcast from the night of March 5.

When he asked cable operators why the channel was no longer available, they could not provide an answer.

Businessman Mahbubur Rahman, a resident of Khilgaon, said his son studied at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN).

For the past three years, he had been watching RT before going to bed at night.

“There was no warning at all. The channel just stopped for some reason,” he said.

When contacted, TV viewers and cable operators in Dhanmondi, Bashabo, Mirpur, Gulshan and Maghbazar said that RT was no longer available in the country

Mojibur Rahman, joint secretary (TV) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, told there were no longer any Russian channels on the list of TV channels permitted by the government.

He added that he did not know why the channel had been taken off the list.

SK Shamsur Rahman, deputy secretary (Tv-2) of the same ministry, also said he did not know why RT was no longer permitted.

Cable Operators Association of Bangladesh (COAB) President SM Anwar Parvez said they had not received any formal letter from the government to ban RT.

“We informed our cable operators and they told us RT had been blocked for unknown reasons.

Satellite companies that broadcast the channel may have been banned or may not be promoting the channel for various reasons,” he added.

“Occasionally, one or two channels are blocked due to satellite companies.

Neither our government nor cable operators have stopped airing foreign channels. Broadcast companies may have shut them down,” the COAB president further said.

According to international media reports, EU sanctions were officially approved on late Tuesday night to block the RT channel due to an investigation by media regulator Ofcom into its coverage of the war in Ukraine.

In a separate decision, YouTube blocked RT’s streams from being accessed across Europe, including in the UK, cutting one of its main routes to the western public, the Guardian reported.

The UK media regulator Ofcom is currently investigating RT for 27 potential breaches of its broadcasting code.

The watchdog has the power to revoke a broadcast licence, but any action is likely to take weeks, according to BBC.

Although the UK is no longer in the EU, the bloc applied sanctions to satellite companies in Luxembourg and France, which provided RT feed to Sky, Freesat and Freeview.

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