BBC refuses to sell licence for celebrity gymnastics show to Russia

BBC refuses to sell licence for celebrity gymnastics show to Russia
BBC Broadcasting House in London (Image: Stuart Pinfold under a CC licence)

7 October 2015

BBC Worldwide has refused to sell the licence for its entertainment show Tumble to Russian television company Red Square (Chyorny Kvadrat) and Channel One Russia (Pervy Kanal), according to business magazine Forbes.

The decision was reportedly prompted by economic sanctions brought against Russia by the European Union. Owner of Red Square, Arkady Rotenberg, and co-owner of Channel One Russia, Yury Kovalchuk, were added the list of people targeted by EU sanctions in 2014.

Tumble is a television competition, in which celebrities take part in gymnastics training and perform live on TV to win the votes of the public. It was originally shown in the UK in August 2014 but was cancelled after one series.

The presenter of the Russian version of the show was set to be retired rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, who also served as a State Duma deputy from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party between 2007 and 2014. As a result of the BBC’s decision, Channel One Russia has decided to go ahead with a different show entitled Without Insurance, which sees celebrities performing acrobatic tricks.

The BBC declined to comment on the deal, having clarified that it both cooperates with Russian media companies and adheres to US and EU decisions regarding sanctions. An official representative for Channel One Russia also declined to comment, while Red Square failed to reply to enquiries by Forbes.

Source: Slon (in Russian)