Russian broadcaster RT is being taken off the air in Washington, D.C., as of midnight on Sunday.
The English-language channel, formerly known as Russia Today, has been described by US intelligence agencies as “state-run propaganda.” RT counters that it is a news operation that provides alternative information under the slogan, “Question More.”
RT is carried by digital stations WNVT and WNVC in the Northern Virginia area, and the stations’ owner auctioned off its share of the digital airwaves for use by wireless developer applications. That will eliminate the ability to carry programming from RT and others. Because of that, RT also will vanish from local cable providers, which are required to carry all broadcasters in their area.
The Kremlin said on Friday that taking RT off the air in Washington looked illegal and discriminatory.
The US Department of Justice forced RT to register as “a foreign agent” in November of last year. That move requires it to disclose financial information, something the station claims is burdensome as it tries to expand its distribution.
“These cable providers announced that they won’t provide their services to RT,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “Lawyers are examining the details, but as of now and at first glance it looks like a groundless decision.”
Peskov also said discrimination against Russia media concerned the Kremlin. “It’s a very worrying tendency,” he said. “They are demonstrating a discriminatory policy towards the media in the US, which probably breaks the law and contradicts all these statements about freedom of speech.”