Paramount president and CEO Bob Bakish has revealed further steps to pause operations in Russia following its invasion of Ukraine and has announced a $1 million donation to support humanitarian relief.
In an internal memo to staff on Tuesday, seen by Variety, Bakish wrote: “Like many of you, I am closely following the devastating, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The resulting humanitarian crisis and its ripple effects on the lives of millions of people across Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and in Russia itself, is heartbreaking to witness.”
“Since the beginning of this crisis, our teams across the world have been working around the clock to determine the best, and most importantly – safest – ways we as a business can show our support for all those impacted. I want to be clear, the safety and security of employees and all those who work with us is, and will always be, our top priority. We continue to offer specialized support services to hundreds of staff, freelance and fixed term employees in Ukraine, Russia, and Poland whose lives are being impacted by this crisis.”
Bakish said that the studio is “taking a series of steps to suspend our operations in Russia, including pausing the supply of Paramount Global content.” The studio had already suspended theatrical release of films in Russia, including “The Lost City” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.” Bakish said that publisher Simon & Schuster had suspended sales to accounts in Russia, along with the licensing of translation rights to Russian publishers and tht Paramount Consumer Products would pause all new licensing deals in Russia.
“Other activity, including the distribution of linear channels and some content licensing, will take more time to pause due to existing contractual, technical and partner complexities,” Bakish said.
Revealing a $1 million corporate donation to support humanitarian relief, Bakish encouraged employees to directly help those in need during humanitarian crisis unfolds. “Eligible employees in the U.K. and the U.S. can take advantage of the Paramount Matching Program, which we are working to expand to additional international regions,” Bakish wrote.
“In addition, we are using our content and capabilities to help those in need, including the power of our global platforms to ensure the world bears witness to this tragedy, as well as to support humanitarian relief efforts,” Bakish wrote. “The courageous news teams at CBS News, Channel 5, Chilevision, Network 10, and Telefe have been reporting around the clock from on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries.”
The executive highlighted Paramount group company efforts during the crisis, including the U.K.’s Channel 5 recent fundraising special, “Ukraine: How YOU Can Help,” MTVE’s global call to action across linear and social for audiences to donate funds to support relief efforts across several organizations, and the Consumer Products team donating toys, products, and funds to organizations that are supporting kids and families from Ukraine who are seeking refuge.
“Our team is working to quickly bring Ukrainian-language kids’ content to European countries like Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain and France for free on Pluto TV, and to Poland through local Nickelodeon distribution partners,” Bakish added. “And there’s more underway and to come.”
“As we pause our operations, we will continue to financially support our dedicated team in Moscow. I also ask everyone across the business to please be sensitive to the effect this crisis is having on colleagues across Europe, and particularly those who are Ukrainian, Russian, and in Eastern Europe,” Bakish concluded.