NBCUniversal is closing its pay TV channels in Russia after a ban on commercials went into effect Jan. 1, the company announced Friday.
“Due to the challenging economic environment for our pay-TV channels (Universal Channel and E! Entertainment Television) in Russia, Universal Networks International has made the decision to no longer operate in the market and is looking at alternative opportunities for its channels’ business,” NBCUni said in a statement.
“NBCUniversal remains committed to the Russian market, with Universal Pictures International and NBCUniversal International Television Distribution continuing their successful operations there,” the company added.
NBCUniversal’s Russian exit comes after President Vladimir Putin signed a bill in 2014 banning commercials on Russian pay TV, effective January 1st, 2015. The ban was instituted to try and create an equal playing field between pay-TV networks and free-t0-air stations, which unlike pay TV, rely solely on commercials for revenue.