Denis Diderot Committee
December 15 2022
Russian channels on Eutelsat: the decision of the French authority Arcom is insufficient
For the Denis Diderot Committee, Arcom must also require Eutelsat to strictly comply with European sanctions
Since the end of March 2022, the Denis Diderot Committee, a network of academics and media professionals, has alerted the French and European authorities to the broadcasting of Russian war propaganda television channels. These channels regularly incite genocide s and are broadcast by the French operator Eutelsat. The world's second largest operator of telecommunications satellites, Eutelsat is a French company of which the French State is the main shareholder as well as the regulator. Eutelsat broadcasts to Russia and the occupied territories of Ukraine some 330 television channels and around 40 radio channels on behalf of two Russian pay-TV platforms, Trikolor and NTV Plus. These platforms are also marketed in the occupied territories of Ukraine and, in “grey market”, in the Baltic States.
Yesterday, the French authority for communication Arcom has given Eutelsat formal notice to stop broadcasting the three main Russian channels Rossiya 1, Pervyi Kanal and NTV. Eutelsat broadcasts for the platforms Trikolor and NTVplus 330 channels to Russia, the occupied territories of Ukraine and the Baltic States. The decision follows the referral to Arcom by Reporters Without Borders, on the basis of a report file drawn up by the Denis Diderot Committee. A decision of the Council of State signified to Arcom that it had jurisdiction over this file, which it had denied for several months.
This is a first victory, but there is still a lot to be done: as remembered by the Vice-President of the European Commission, Mrs Věra Jourová, in charge of media policy, according to the European Commission guidelines published in June, the European Union decisions on the banning of the broadcasts of Russia Today, Rossiya 24, RTR-Planeta, TV Centr also apply to broadcasting to third countries, therefore to Russia. Eutelsat still broadcasts these channels. Similarly, the Luxembourg company SES still broadcasts RT News in India and South Africa with the tacit approval of the Luxembourg authorities.
On December 8, before the INGE2 Commission of the European Parliament chaired by Raphaël Glucksmann, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell declared that he was going to personally investigate in order to determine why France had not implemented sanctions according to the guidelines published last June by the European Commission.
Other channels broadcast by Eutelsat also include two Russian Army channels, two Orthodox Church channels which support the aggression and accuse the Ukrainian LGBT community of being responsible for the war, and the Grozny TV channel, under the grip of Ramzan Kadyrov. Eutelsat also broadcasts RT Arabic on three satellites to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East
The Internet access service provided by Eutelsat in Russia broadcasts online propaganda services such as RT Rossiya, on which a journalist recently called for drowning or burning Ukrainian children. Does Eutelsat also apply the Internet censorship measures decreed by the Russian government?
“This decision is a great success for the Denis Diderot Committee, indicates André Lange, who founded the committee with Jim Phillipoff last March to raise the alarm about the deplorable collaboration of Eutelsat with Russian propaganda of war and incitement to genocide. We have demonstrated, with the collaboration of RSF and its lawyers, that action by expert citizens can put an end to nine months of procrastination and inaction by politicians and administrations on a file whose strategic impact is nevertheless extremely important. The channels concerned manufacture the adhesion of large parts of the Russian population to the aggression against Ukraine. With our partners of the Stop Bloodcasting Coalition we also hope for the rapid adoption by the European Council of the 9th sanctions package, which will reinforce the French decision”.
The Denis Diderot Committee also indicates the need to set up a European Task Force, bringing together the European institutions, the companies concerned, the professional organizations of journalists, the experts and the NGOs to define a strategy making it possible to provide the Russian population with information precise and pluralistic analyses of the aggression against Ukraine, its human and economic consequences. In particular, the possibilities of using the capacities freed up on the Eutelsat 36B satellite and those which will be available on the Eutelsat 36 D satellite, whose launch is scheduled for 2024, to offer the Russian population a package of channels constituting an alternative to those currently existing.
The Denis Diderot Committee is an international network of academics, experts and media professionals. It was created in March 2022 to contribute to the restoration of the free flow of information, without war propaganda, between Europe and Russia with a view to providing support to Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian civil societies.
Contacts: André Lange tel 33.6.08.74.50.12 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Phillipoff email@example.com
Press release by Reporters without Borders (RSF) : https://rsf.org/fr/le-r%C3%A9gulateur-fran%C3%A7ais-de-l-audiovisuel-met-en-demeure-eutelsat-de-cesser-la-diffusion-de-trois
European Commission - Frequently asked questions concerning sanctions adopted following Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and Belarus' involvement in it. https://finance.ec.europa.eu/publications/consolidated-version_en (p.250)
Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the European Commission, High Representtaive for Foreign Affairs, anwered to the questions of the MEP related to Eutelsat at the meeting of the Committee ING2 on Foreitn Ingerence (8 December 2022)