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Russia Today and other state-funded media outlets are active in advancing President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical agenda, according to the US state department. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Russia Today and other state-funded media outlets are active in advancing President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical agenda, according to the US state department. Picture: BLOOMBERG

The Canada’s minister responsible for broadcasting said the government as investigating “all options” for getting a state-owned Russian TV network off the nation’s airwaves amid rising anger over the invasion of Ukraine. 

“I share the concerns of many Canadians about the presence of Russia Today (RT) in our broadcasting system,” Canadian heritage minister Pablo Rodriguez said on Saturday on Twitter. “We’re looking at all options.” 

The three largest telecommunications companies all offer RT to their television subscribers, according to their websites. Officials for those companies — Rogers Communications,  Telus Corp and BCE — did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside of regular business hours.  

RT and other state-funded media outlets such as Sputnik are active participants in advancing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical agenda, according to a paper published by the US state department in January.

“RT and Sputnik’s role as disinformation and propaganda outlets is most obvious when they report on issues of political importance to the Kremlin,” said the report from the department’s Global Engagement Center. “A prevalent example is Russia’s use of RT and Sputnik to attempt to change public opinions about Ukraine in Europe, the US and as far away as Latin America.” 

Paula Simons, a member of Canada’s senate, said she would be meeting the country’s broadcast regulator on Monday to ask questions about RT.

A 2017 probe by the Globe and Mail newspaper found that Canada’s cable companies were in some cases being paid by an affiliate of RT to carry the channel. At the time, it was estimated that RT reached between 6-million and 7-million Canadian households. 

Canada has an estimated 1.3-million people of Ukrainian descent, including one of the most powerful members of the government, deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland.

Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced multiple rounds of sanctions on Russia and Putin in response to the invasion and have openly backed the idea of cutting Russian entities out of the SWIFT financial messaging system that facilitates trillions of dollars in transactions. 

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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