Disney and Russia: what next?

By Chris Dziadul | February 24, 2009 | 06:56 UK

Confusion still surrounds last week’s decision by the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to deny Walt Disney Co. permission to buy a 49% stake in Media One TV, which controls 30 regional stations in the country.

It was Walt Disney’s intention to jointly launch Disney Channel in Russia with Media One TV, and Kommersant cites an unconfirmed report that Walt Disney’s president Robert Iger is trying to get an appointment with Vladimir Putin to discuss the issue.

Although companies such as Modern Times Group (MTG) and RTL Group are already present in the Russian TV marketplace through stakes in CTC Media and Ren TV respectively, foreign involvement is the Russian media is not generally encouraged and some local sources view the blocking of the (reportedly $233 million - €181.6 million) Disney deal as a political rather than economic decision.

Last autumn the FAS blocked a $140 million move by Google to buy into the Russian web company Rambler Media.