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Disney Channel to stop broadcasting in Russia

A still frame from the Russian version of the Disney Channel. (Still frame via Disney Kanal broadcast, Graphic by The Desk)

A localized version of the Disney Channel will stop broadcasting on Russian cable and satellite systems later this month.

The channel, which operates as a joint venture between the Walt Disney Company and Russia’s Media1, replaced the kids TV channel Jetix in December 2011 and offered dubbed and subtitled versions of Disney programming cultivated from its American and European channels.

Nearly 50 million Russian homes have access to the Disney Channel, according to data reviewed by The Desk. Those homes will see the Disney Channel replaced by a new channel called Solntse, which Media1 will operate with Mercury Content. The switch is scheduled to happen on December 14.

The decision to shut down the channel comes nearly a year after Disney executives said they were suspending business operations in Russia due to the country’s military conflict with neighboring Ukraine. It followed a wave of similar pronouncements by western media companies, including Amazon and Netflix, who decided to pull out of the country over the invasion.

The Disney Channel continued to operate in the country due to existing agreements with cable and satellite providers there, according to a person familiar with the matter, who noted that Disney itself only owned a 20 percent stake in the channel.

Two other Disney-owned channels — Russian variants of National Geographic and National Geographic Wild — shut down in October. The channels were acquired through Disney’s purchase of some television and film assets from Fox Corporation in 2019.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is an award-winning journalist with more than 10 years of experience covering the business of television and radio broadcasting, streaming services and the overall media industry. In addition to his work as publisher of The Desk, Matthew contributes regularly to StreamTV Insider and KnowTechie, and has worked for several well-known news organizations, including Thomson Reuters, McNaughton Newspapers, Grasswire, Comstock's magazine, KTXL-TV and KGO-TV. Matthew is a member of IRE, a trade organization for investigative reporters and editors, and is based in Northern California.

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