Censorship of 8 international news channels on Eutelsat S.A. satellites
Filed the 13 May 2022
Two Russian pay-TV companies NTVPlyus o.o.o. ("NTV+") and National Satellite Company PJSC ("Trikolor") are operating on the Russian market as distributors of bouquets of TV and radio channels.
They are operating on satellites Eutelsat 36°E B and on satellites Eutelsat 36°E C owned by the French company Eutelsat S.A.. They also use capacities of the satellites Express AT1 56° E and Express AT2 140° E rented for them by Eutelsat S.A. to the Russian company RSCC.
The French State is the main shareholder of Eutelsat S.A. through the BPI which owns 20 % shares.
Eutelsat S.A. claims that the constellation of the 4 satellites reaches 50 % of the Russian and C.I.S. TV households. The total number of subscribers to the two platforms is estimated to 15 million of Russian TV households.
Till early March 2022, 8 international news channels were distributed on the Russian DTH market by the two distributors : BBC World, CNN, DW, Euronews Russkiy, France 24, NHK World, Rainews 24 and TV5 Monde.
Between the 5 and the 9 March 2022 (at different dates), the transmission of those channels was interrupted in legal conditions to be clarified, but, in most of the cases, certainly not by decision of the broadcasters as claimed by the two platforms on their respective websites.
It is probable that the contract between Eutelsat S.A. and the two Russian companies is a contract of French law. The situation anyway implies the collaboration of a French company with the Russian apparatus of war propaganda (which imply not only disinformation and fake news, but also calls to murder foreign leaders visiting Ukraine, to create concentration camps for opponents to the war, to launch a 3rd World War with nuclear weapons against 40 "Nazi States", and of course hatred statement against the Ukrainian population, negation of Ukraine as independent State, negation of the existence of Ukrainian culture and language).
The Denis Diderot Committee, created by media experts has published the 5 April a report, a petition and a website https://denisdiderot.net It has alerted on the issue all the relevant bodies of the EU, Council of Europe, OSCE and France.
The petition was signed by 53 personalities of the media sector, including 9 media personalities of Quebec concerned by the censorship of TV5 Monde. The petition is also signed by all the Members of the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine. It is supported by 4 national organisations of journalists (Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg and Quebec). The petition was also signed on Avaaz by more than 1150 citizen. The petition was registered European Parliament under number 0380/2022.
The European Federation of Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists have filed an alert in the Council of Europe Safety of Journalits Platform
Mrs Olha Herasymiuk, President of the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, speaking at the 55th EPRA Conference in Antwerp, 12 May 2022, has stated "All contracts with Russian media structures must be terminated."
In various press statements, Eutelsat S.A. has claimed that it does not have the possibility of interrupting the contracts with the two Russian companies without a clear mandate by the regulators. The Denis Diderot Committee recognises that this position is correct, at least from a legal point of view. It indicates clearly that the case should be taken into consideration by the regulators.
The main regulator is the French authority Arcom but it may also be argued that the EU has direct competences in the case in the framework of sanctions against companies of the Russian Federation.
Eutelsat S.A. and the French authorities have never accused reception of the Denis Diderot Committee correspondence. Most of the EU bodies did. The DG CNECT has send a letter to the Committee but with an argumentation which seems only the reproduction of Eutelsat S.A. lobbying position.
The Denis Diderot Committee considers that further investigations are necessary by competent bodies. It consider that sanctions could liberate capacities on at least one of the 4 satellites to provide the possibility of accessing again, by DTH reception, the Russian public for the international news channels, Russian speaking channels existing in various EU countries (Estonia, Czech Republic, Finland) and Ukraine and possible independent channels created in EU countries by Russians.
The free flow of information (without warmongering statements) between EU and the Russian Federation should be restored.