Holocaust survivor support group calls on cable giant to remove ‘Russian propaganda’ from programming

This story has been updated to include a response from the cable company.

(New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Thirty-five New York politicians have signed a letter from The Blue Card, a nonprofit that helps Holocaust survivors, calling on Optimum Cable to drop the TV channels. Russian television stations which, according to the letter, broadcast “pro-Putin propaganda”. .”

“We were shocked to learn that Optimum TV’s Russian cable package includes channels such as Channel 1 Russia, NTV Russia and RTR Planeta, among others known for their disinformation campaigns and pro-Putin propaganda,” the report said. letter dated March 2. “These networks air shows and talk shows that downplay the significance of the Holocaust and attempt to cover up anti-Semitic practices in the former Soviet Union by brainwashing their viewers.”

Russian TV channels are accused elsewhere of downplaying or ignoring the scale of Russian attacks on major Ukrainian cities. Russia-1 and RTR Planeta are state-owned; NTV is owned by the Russian state-controlled energy company, Gazprom.

The letter was signed by the borough presidents of the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, six state senators, 13 members of the State Assembly and 13 members of the city council, on “behalf of Holocaust survivors At New York “.

The Blue Card, which provides direct financial assistance to Holocaust survivors in need, noted that many of the 65,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States are Russian-speaking. The “propaganda broadcast on these channels can trigger memories of the Holocaust” and “experiences of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, often causing feelings of distress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder,” according to the letter.

Blue Card joins other organizations and municipalities seeking to punish Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said he plans to recommend the city’s pension boards divest Russian assets from their portfolios, and the Metropolitan Opera announced on Sunday that it will no longer work with it. pro-Putin artists or organizations. The European Union is seeking to ban Kremlin-backed media.

Optimum provides internet, television and telephone services in the tri-state area. Founded in the 1970s, it was acquired by Cablevision and then acquired by Altice in 2016, becoming the fourth largest cable company in the country.

In response to a request for comment from New York Jewish Week, a spokesperson for Altice sent an article to industry publication Cablefax stating that International Media Distribution, a division of Comcast-NBCUniversal that provides international channels to many many cable companies (including Altice/Optimum), will no longer provide Channel 1 Russia to its customers, starting Wednesday evening.

On the morning of Friday March 4, the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Jewish Week that they had removed RTR Planeta and NTV America from its platforms, adding that Optimum does not offer NTV Russia.

On the homepage of its website, Optimum.net, a notification states that it “makes it easy to connect with loved ones in Ukraine”: All calls and texts to the country are free during the month of March.

Virginia S. Braud