BBC stops licensing content to Russian customers

The TV sector has joined many others in distancing itself from Russia following the escalating conflict with Ukraine.

01 March 2022

The BBC is formally requesting that its Russian customers do not play out the remainder of hit programmes including Dancing With The Stars and The Green Planet, the PA news agency understands.

BBC Studios, the commercial arm of the broadcaster, announced on Tuesday that it was halting all content licensing with its Russian customers over the invasion of Ukraine.

A statement said: “In common with other media organisations, we have been monitoring events closely.

David Attenborough spiked by a cactus
Sir David Attenborough, right, filming The Green Planet (BBC/PA)

“The BBC’s executive team were meeting today and they have decided to stop all content licensing to Russian customers.”

This includes the Russian version of Strictly Come Dancing spin-off Dancing With The Stars and Sir David Attenborough’s recent The Green Planet documentary.

Similarly, ITV announced they have ceased working with Russian customers following the conflict.

A statement said: “We have made the decision to stop new sales to Russian clients as we do not believe it appropriate to be doing business with them at this time.

“We also do not have any Russian clients attending our London Screenings event either.”

It comes after the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact) – the UK’s trade association for independent producers – called on its members to suspend co-operation and trade with the country.

The association has among its members Hartswood Films, which produced the TV series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and World Productions, which counts Line Of Duty and Vigil among its shows.

It said in a statement: “Pact expresses our deepest sympathy for the people of Ukraine, and in particular our colleagues working in Ukraine’s film and television sector.

“Along with other industry organisations, Pact calls for a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and for a resolution of conflict by diplomatic means respecting the rule of law and the rights of the Ukrainian people.

“International sanctions are being implemented against the Russian government.

“Whilst Pact sympathises with Russian creatives who do not have the same freedoms and safeguards that we enjoy in the United Kingdom, Pact has removed all Russian production and business information from its website and calls on members to suspend all co-operation and trade with Russia for the time being.

“Pact joins the call of millions in expressing our fervent hope for peace.”

The TV sector joins many others in distancing itself from Russia as Western countries increase sanctions against the nation.

Several major Hollywood entertainment companies, including Warner Bros, Sony Pictures and The Walt Disney Company, have paused the release of films in Russia in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

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