By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business
RT America will cease productions and lay off most of its staff, according to a memo CNN obtained from T&R Productions, the production company behind the Russian state-funded network.
Misha Solodovnikov, the general manager of T&R Productions, told staff in the memo that it will be “ceasing production” at all of its locations “as a result of unforeseen business interruption events.”
“Unfortunately, we anticipate this layoff will be permanent, meaning that this will result in the permanent separation from employment of most T&R employees at all locations,” Solodovnikov wrote.
T&R Productions operated offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.
The news would mean an effective end to RT America. The network, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main mouthpieces in the US, was dropped earlier this week by DirecTV, dealing a major financial blow to it. The satellite carrier was one of the two major television providers in the US to carry the network.
Roku, a company that sells hardware which allows users to stream content through the internet, also said that it had banished RT America from its platform.
“We are sad and disappointed that our groundbreaking channel RT America had to go off the air after more than 10 years, and that the company that supplied much of its content, T&R Productions, had to cease most of its operations, due to challenging external circumstances,” RT’s deputy editor-in-chief Anna Belkina said in a statement to CNN. “However, we are working hard to find ways that its staff, which has for many years produced award-winning news and programming content, can remain within RT’s international family.”
RT, which operates multiple networks across the world, has seen its reach significantly diminish in recent days as technology companies and television providers have moved to sever ties with it as a result of Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine.
Several employees from RT’s various networks have also publicly resigned from the outlet.
RT America employees who worked from the Washington, DC, bureau were told on Wednesday that an all-staff meeting would occur on Thursday afternoon, according to an email obtained by CNN.
When hosts, correspondents, producers, and others gathered in RT America’s lounge, Solodovnikov delivered the news in person, a person who attended the meeting told CNN.
“The meeting was all of about two minutes,” the attendee said, explaining that Solodovnikov told the assembled staff RT America would be stopping production and that staff would be provided two months pay.
The attendee, who requested anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations, told CNN that the mood was somber.
“A lot of people were shocked,” the person said. “A lot of people were crying.”
An RT America host, who also spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity, said that she watched as her entire staff was told “their jobs were no more.”
“I have never felt more heartbroken as they have nothing to do with this conflict and seriously were just trying to make a decent living to provide for their families,” the host said.
Solodovnikov did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for RT America did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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