Danish CEO is attacked for spreading Putin propaganda

Belingske, 26.4.2022

https://www.berlingske.dk/virksomheder/dansk-topchef-angribes-for-at-udbrede-putin-propaganda

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Satellite TV giant Eutelsat, which since the turn of the year has been headed by former TDC director and KMD chief executive Eva Berneke, continues to broadcast Russian propaganda channels to Russian TV viewers.

Former TDC director and KMD chief executive Eva Berneke is accused of keeping the Russian war propaganda alive by not saying stop the fact that the communications satellites that she, as chief executive of French Eutelsat , is responsible for, still send the TV signals out in Russia.

Eva Berneke took over the top position in january this year in the listed Eutelsat, which is one of the major European satellite companies whose 37 satellites across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India are responsible for the transmission of about 7,000 TV channels and 1,100 radio channels to about one billion viewers on behalf of tv providers.

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She will not comment to the newspaper on the criticism but refers to the company's press department. This is pretty much the same message that the major French Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche received earlier in April, when it described how about 20 French companies continue to operate in Russia two months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"Eutelsat pursues a strict policy of neutrality by systematically introducing the decisions of the regulators and competent bodies," a Spokesman  for Eutelsat told the newspaper, referring to the blocking of the state television channel Russia Today (RT) imposed by the EU.

Eutelsat's satellites relay the TV channels that the Russian satellite TV stations NTV-Plus (which are part of Gazprom-Media Holding) and Tricolor provide to their customers in Russia.

Ukraine's National Broadcasting Council backed an appeal to the EU in early April to ban NTV-Plus and Tricolor from  being broadcast through Eutelsat's satellite network. Since March 8, the two pay-TV providers have excluded international news channels such as BBC World, NN, Deutsche Welle, Euronews and France 24 from their channel offerings to viewers.

The call for the EU comes from the Denis Diderot Committee, which two satellite tv experts have founded as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Analyst: Eutelsat expands Putin's highway to become four-lane

Telecommunications analyst John Strand, who is the CEO of Strand Consult, which advises telecommunications companies worldwide, is very puzzled.

"Every company doing business in Russia has a choice. Large French companies such as Michelin, Louis Vuitton, Citroën and others. is included in the long and impressive list of companies that have chosen to withdraw from Russia despite the gigantic economic consequences it has on their shareholders. Eutelsat has had a choice – and has chosen not to do anything. We can see that Western TV channels have disappeared so that Russians do not have access to them. Eutelsat not only broadcasts Russian propaganda but expands Putin's highway from being two-lane to being four-lane," Strand said.

He concedes that, of course, it is Eutelsat's customers who decide which programs they want to send to their TV subscribers.

 

"You can also debate whether a company should act on its own or whether it requires political sanctions. But here is a company in Paris that has the opportunity to press the button so that Putin's propaganda is removed from 12 million customers in Russia. I believe that the effect of turning off the signal will be significantly greater than not being able to buy Chanel or Louis Vuitton bags in Russia," says Strand.

Eutelsat was on the list that the hacker group Anonymous in early April put out companies that still had operations in Russia – with the implied message that they could probably expect hacker visits.

Also on the list was the Danish shoe manufacturer Ecco.

"Eutelsat: provides satellite television services to Russia, 5-10% of its revenue comes from Russia," the company said.

The company's largest shareholder is investment bank Bpifrance, which owns 20 percent of the shares.

Today, Eva Berneke sits on the boards of two large, dance companies, the wind turbine giant Vestas and the toy giant Lego. In March 2021, she resigned from THE IT giant KMD, which she had been chief executive of for seven years, to move with her family to Paris, where she previously lived and worked. Here she got the top job at Eutelsat from the turn of the year.