Release by the Denis Diderot Committee

 

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS (RSF) FRONTIERES, ON THE BASIS OF A DETAILED REPORT FROM THE DENIS DIDEROT COMMITTEE, ASKS THE FRENCH COMMUNICATION AUTHORITY ARCOM TO STOP THE BROADCASTING BY EUTELSAT OF THE THREE MAIN RUSSIAN TV CHANNELS

 

  • The referral concerns the three channels : Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV

 

  • A report prepared by the Denis Diderot Committee analyses the extent of the collaboration of the French company Eutelsat S.A. with the Russian war propaganda apparatus and responds to the arguments put forward by the latter.

 

  • Russian professional data show that television remains in Russia the main medium of information for the Russian population, including social networks.

 

 

Paris/Amsterdam, September 9, 2022  

 

In a letter sent to its President, Roch-Olivier Maistre, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) association, which works for the defense of freedom of information and is recognized as being a public utility in France, invites the French communication authority Arcom to initiate a formal procedure in order to oblige Eutelsat S.A. to suspend three Russian state channels (Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal, NTV).

Under article 43-3 of the Freedom of Communication law from September 30, 1986, Arcom has jurisdiction over non-European satellite channels using French satellite capacities. Various cases  have illustrated this competence, including the decision of July 27, 2022 giving Eutelsat formal notice to suspend the broadcasting of the NTV Mir channel, aimed at the European market. 

Reporters Without Borders considers that this competence is universal in scope, and therefore allows Arcom to intervene in cases of channels that do not primarily target Europe. The three channels concerned are broadcast by Eutelsat to 15 million Russian households as part of the pay-TV offers of two Russian customers of Eutelsat, the NTV Plus and Trikolor platforms. These are the three most important channels in the Russian market.

Based on a detailed report file compiled by the Denis Diderot Committee, Reporters Without Borders argues that these channels:

  • Do not respect human dignity (in particular through the repeated non-compliance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war);

  • Do not guarantee the pluralistic nature of the expression of thoughts and opinions;

  • Undermine the safeguard of European public order by legitimizing attacks on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, legitimizing unjustified military aggression and calling for the use of nuclear weapons in the context of a Third World War against "40 Nazi States".

  • Regularly incite hatred and violence against the Ukrainian population, but also hatred against other populations and against sexual minorities.

  • Calls for mass extermination, and calls for the murder of leaders may be considered to fall under article 421-2-5 of the Criminal Code (provocation to commit terrorist acts).Consequently, Reporters Without Borders is asking ARCOM to initiate the procedure aimed at giving Eutelsat S.A. formal notice to suspend the broadcasting of the three channels.

The detailed report drawn up by the Denis Diderot Committee, which is attached to the referral to Reporters Without Borders, not only outlines the problematic statements  on these three channels. It provides legal and statistical information to understand the role of television, YouTube, and social networks in the regime of Vladimir Putin and their evolution since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine.

Using precise information, based on European and Russian professional sources of reference, the dossier provides a detailed critique of Eutelsat's line of defense, since its collaboration with the Russian war propaganda apparatus was put forward by many personalities, including Ukrainian politicians and the Ukrainian ambassador at the UN, the Denis Diderot Committee and the international press.

The Managing Director of Eutelsat S.A., Mrs. Eva Berneke, argues that Eutelsat's Ethics Charter, adopted in 2014, stipulates that the company must remain neutral with regard to the content of the channels and that it is up to the regulators, if necessary, to suspend the broadcasting of channels. This is correct, but the Ethics Charter also specifies that Eutelsat expects its partners to respect the same principles. Mrs Berneke cannot ignore that several of the Russian channels on Eutelsat do not comply with basic standards defined by international conventions, in particular the EUTELSAT IGO Convention which governs the commercial activities of Eutelsat S.A. and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television.

  • The removal by the two Russian platforms of eight international news channels has not been publicly reported by Eutelsat. Asked about this, Mrs. Berneke replied that her Russian clients had only complied with the legislation of their country. However, the public register of the regulatory authority, RKN, does not show any withdrawal of license for the channels concerned, and the two platforms announced on their site that the withdrawal is the act of the rights holders, which is not true for most of them.

 

  • Far from alerting the authorities to the problematic content conveyed by its Russian customers and to this censorship of international channels, Ms. Berneke and the company's spokespersons sought to minimize the importance of the role of Eutelsat in Russian propaganda.

 

  • Eutelsat claims that its Russian customers, NTV Plus and Tricolor, only offer their encrypted packages in Russia. The Denis Diderot Committee was able to establish that NTV Plus and Trikolor are also marketed in the occupied territories of Ukraine (Crimea, Donbass) and, within the framework of a significant "grey market" in the Baltic States

 

  • Eutelsat claims that it only broadcasts “a few channels” in Russia. The Diderot Committee establishes that the combined offer of the two platforms amounts to around 330 channels. To this must be added the broadcasting by Eutelsat of around ten free-to-air channels on other satellites, to Europe and other parts of the world. In particular, the RT Arabic channel is broadcast not only to Europe but also to the Middle East and North Africa, where it unilaterally relays the official Russian narrative on the war in Ukraine.

 

  • Eutelsat claims that the channels broadcast by the two platforms are mainly entertainment, sports and children's channels. If it is true that thematic channels are numerous in the offers, but the three generalist channels Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV have together maintained, since the beginning of the war, an average daily audience market share of 34%. Their talk shows, hosted by star presenters such as Dmity Kisilev, Vlamidir Soloviev, Margarita Simonyan, Olga Skabeyva, Evgueni Popov, who appear on the lists of personalities sanctioned by the European Union for their contribution to propaganda in favour of the invasion of Ukraine, are the ones that regularly rank at the top of the audience measurements.

 

  • In addition to these three channels, the offerings include three other general-interest channels, 18 news channels (all directly or indirectly under public control), 4 channels devoted to military issues (including the two Zvezda channels edited by the Russian Army), 33 regional channels, (including GRTK Grozny TV, under the leadership of Ramzan Kadyrov, known for his warmongering and hate speech), and two channels of the Orthodox Church, not hesitating to broadcast Patriarch Kirill's attacks against Ukrainian LGBT people, accused of being those responsible for the war. It can also be noted that sports channels (such as Match TV) or entertainment channels (such as REN TV) are not exempt from hate speech against Ukrainians.

 

  • Ms. Berneke said that the public who wanted to have alternative information could access it thanks to the Internet and the VPN to bypass the blocks. This is partly correct, but the data collected by the Denis Diderot Committee from Russian professional sources (Mediascope, Medialogy, tgstat) show, on the Internet, that the sites and channels of broadcasters continue to occupy a preponderant place in subscriptions, audience and citations on the different platforms. The fact that a minority of the population has the possibility of escaping propaganda cannot absolve the satellite operator of its contribution to brainwashing operations and incitement to hatred by the main television broadcasters, proven propagandists of the policy of Vladimir Putin.

 

The Denis Diderot Committee also observes that the Ekspess AM6 / Eutelsat 53 A satellite broadcasts to the occupied territories of Ukraine the main Russian channels, channels edited in Crimea, the state channels of the two self-proclaimed republics of Donbass, two private local television which Russia has taken control of and two private television stations which appeared during the month of August in . Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Eutelsat shares with its Russian partner, RSCC, the management of this satellite on which it manages five transponders. Despite several requests, Eutelsat's services did not provide the Committee with any details on the possible  company's involvement in the management of this channel offer aimed at the occupied territories of Ukraine.

The electronic version of the file and the dedicated page of the Denis Diderot Committee site provide access to significant video excerpts, translated from Russian by Julia Davis (Russian Media Monitor), Francis Scarr (BBC Monitoring) and Elena Volochine ("Vu de Russie", France 24 ).

 

 

 

The Denis Diderot Committee, an informal international network of academics and media professionals, was created in March 2022 to help restore the free flow of information, without war propaganda, between Europe and Russia with a view to provide support to Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian civil societies.

 

https://denisdiderot.net

 

 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is an international non-profit organization governed by principles of democratic governance. RSF is at the forefront of defending and promoting freedom of information. Recognized as a public utility in France since 1995, RSF has consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). 

https://www.rsf.org

 

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