In a statement, NBCUniversal said it had made the decision “due to the challenging economic environment for our pay TV channels in Russia,” adding that it is looking at “alternative opportunities” for its channels business in the territory.
There are three reasons why international pay TV companies like NBCUniversal and Time Warner’s CNN, which decided to cease its Russian operations in November, are leaving the country.
First, Russia decided in July to place a ban on ads on pay TV channels, and this came into force on Jan. 1.
Second, President Vladimir Putin signed a law in October that will restrict foreign ownership of media companies to 20% by the end of 2016.
Third, the Russian economy is in a poor condition caused by the economic downturn, the international sanctions and the drop in the oil price.
Other international channel operators considering their options in Russia include Disney and Discovery.
NBCUniversal said it would continue to distribute its TV shows and movies in Russia through its international distribution arms, Universal Pictures Intl. and NBCUniversal Intl. Television Distribution.