Paramount Global is temporarily halting its operations in Russia and giving $1 million to support humanitarian relief for Ukraine.
Employees were notified of the moves earlier today in a memo from CEO Bob Bakish.
The move affects the planned theatrical releases of The Lost City, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as well as book sales and licensing of translation rights by Simon & Schuster. Paramount Consumer Products will also pause new licensing deals in Russia.
Linear TV channel distribution and some content licensing will take more time to unplug due to “existing contractual, technical and partner complexities,” Bakish explained.
Paramount will 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,” the memo affirmed. He said the company will still financially support employees in Moscow.
Recently rebranded from ViacomCBS, Paramount has long been active in the region, with film releases and the cable networks formerly under the Viacom umbrella. MTV Networks Europe first opened its doors in 1987, and MTV Russia launched in 1998 via a joint venture, later becoming a wholly owned network. Bakish rose through the ranks of Viacom in large part because of his successful tenure overseeing international operations.
Here is Bakish’s full memo:
Team,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. We are taking a series of steps to suspend our operations in Russia, including pausing the supply of Paramount Global content. We have announced that Paramount Pictures will pause the theatrical release of our upcoming films in Russia, including The Lost City, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Simon & Schuster has suspended sales to accounts in Russia, along with the licensing of translation rights to Russian publishers. Additionally, Paramount Consumer Products will 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. We are also making a $1M donation to support humanitarian relief. In addition to the corporate donation, employees are encouraged to directly help those in need as this humanitarian crisis unfolds. Eligible employees in the UK and the US can take advantage of the Paramount Matching Program, which we are working to expand to additional international regions (more information will follow shortly). 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. 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. Channel 5 recently aired a fundraising special, Ukraine: How YOU Can Help, in the UK. MTVE has initiated a global call to action across linear and social for audiences to donate funds to support relief efforts across several organizations, including World Central Kitchen, International Medical Corps, Save The Children, UN Refugee, UNICEF and more. Our Consumer Products team is donating toys, products, and funds to organizations that are supporting kids and families from Ukraine who are seeking refuge. And, 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. 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. We will provide additional updates as we have them. Best, Bob
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