Russia-backed TV channel RT is gone from DC-area broadcasts

The Associated Press

For years, the state-funded Russian TV channel RT had broadcast its slickly produced English-language news programs over the airwaves in the Washington area.

But in early February, the network was taken off the air by a northern Virginia TV station. RT had remained on area cable channels until midnight Sunday when the station permanently closed.

RT blames the loss of the broadcasts on the network having to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department in November — something that many media outlets with substantial backing from a foreign government have been required to do.

“Although we are not at liberty to disclose the details, we know that this decision was linked to RT’s forced registration as a ‘foreign agent’ in the U.S.,” Anna Belkina, RT’s deputy editor-in-chief, told The Associated Press in an email last week.

But the television station and the owner of the frequency on which RT was broadcast cite business decisions — not the U.S. government.

The station, WNVC in Fairfax, shut down because the frequency on which it was broadcast had been sold. Sunday’s closure pulled the plug on about a dozen digital broadcast channels that offered international programming.

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