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Media Regulator Finds No Fault With Operators That Dropped Dozhd

Media regulator Roskomnadzor has found that the Russian telecoms operators that removed independent television channel Dozhd from their packages last month did not break the law.

Several operators, including Tricolor and Beeline, dropped the channel in January after it ran a poll that asked whether Leningrad should have been surrendered to Germany in World War II to save lives.

Despite being scrapped quickly, the poll caused a scandal and lawmakers asked prosecutors to examine the channel for possible extremism charges.

Dozhd's management said the poll had been used as a pretext to shut down the channel, known for giving airtime to the activities of Kremlin opponents.

Though no charges were brought against the company, the move by operators resulted in a dramatic drop in Dozhd's audience.

The Kremlin's human rights council asked Roskomnadzor to check whether the operators were guilty of violating the Constitution, Russian media law and consumer rights.

However, the regulator said in its reply to the human rights council that it had found no evidence of wrongdoing and will not carry out unscheduled inspections of the operators, reported Monday.

Roskomnadzor said that the decision to broadcast a channel depends on the "economic relations between the channels and operators in question" and that it does not have jurisdiction over such matters.

Roskomnadzor also examined Dozhd's poll but did not see fit to issue a warning despite finding violations in media law. In any case, Roskomnadzor needs to have issued two warnings before a broadcaster's license can be revoked.

Dozhd has tried to settle things with the operators by offering their content free for a year, but none of them have taken the station up on the offer so far.

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