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Hometech newsSingtel, StarHub users unable to view Russian-funded TV channel since Friday

Singtel, StarHub users unable to view Russian-funded TV channel since Friday

SINGAPORE – Viewers on StarHub’s and Singtel’s TV networks have not been able to tune in to RT, a news channel funded by the Kremlin, since Friday night (March 4).

Viewers were instead greeted with the message: “Transmission disruption at source. We are working with our partners to resume service. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

When contacted, StarHub and Singtel said that the issue lies with their content provider Globecast, an international media company.

The Straits Times has contacted Globecast for comment.

The disruption comes even as access to RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is being blocked all across Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and various sanctions imposed against Russia.

Sputnik, another Russian state-funded media outlet, has also been blocked from broadcasting across the European Union.

News agency Agence France-Presse reported the move on Sunday by EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, quoting her saying the outlets “will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war and to sow division in our union”.

Social media sites Facebook and TikTok have also blocked access to RT and Sputnik in the EU, Reuters reported.

Similarly, Google has blocked YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe.

The tech giant has also prevented the websites of various Russian state-funded media outlets from appearing in its news-related features, such as Google News.

This is part of measures to stop the spread of misinformation and disrupt disinformation campaigns online, said Google’s president for global affairs Kent Walker in a blog post on Tuesday (March 1).

“This builds on our indefinite pause of monetisation of Russian state-funded media across our platforms, meaning media outlets such as RT are not allowed to monetise their content or advertise on our platforms,” he added.

“We have also significantly limited recommendations globally for a number of Russian state-funded media outlets across our platforms.”

In Singapore, RT is still accessible on YouTube and Facebook, according to checks by ST.

When contacted, Facebook’s parent company Meta declined to comment, while Google referred ST to Mr Walker’s blog post. It has not responded to ST’s further queries.

Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Feb 24 after months of tension at the border, with Russian troops massing and conducting military exercises. Its actions have been widely condemned by countries around the world, including Singapore.

Singapore will be imposing sanctions on Russia for its invasion. These include a ban on the export of electronics, computers and military goods, among others, to Russia, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday (March 5).

Banks and financial institutions here will also be banned from doing business with four Russian banks.

Follow The Straits Times’ live coverage on the Ukraine crisis here.

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