According to a report by the Epoch Times on the 16th March, New York-based New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) and Reporters Without Borders held a joint press conference in Brussels on the afternoon of the 15th of March, condemning the European satellite operator Eutelsat’s decision not to renew the contract under which independent, Chinese-language broadcaster NTDTV uses Eutelsat satellites to broadcast to Asia and China.
Mr Joe Zhao, a representative from the NTDTV executive committee, pointed out that NTDTV started to establish a business relationship with Eutelsat about a year ago because NTDTV believe that the universal rights of freedom and equal access are well protected here. The management of the satellite company promised then that regardless how strong the political pressure from Communist China or other organisations was, they would not cancel NTDTV’s transmission to Asia.
However in December 2004, after the Chairman of Eutelsat, Giuliano Berretta, announced that Eutelsat and the Chinese Satellite Communication Company had reached a historical cooperation agreement, NTDTV was told that its contract to use the W5 satellite over the Asian sky would not be renewed.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said, “It is regrettable that European companies are yielding to pressure from the Chinese government.” Reporters Without Borders called on Eutelsat to allow NTDTV to continue using its satellites.
The incident raised concern in Europe’s political circles. Dr Charles Tannock MEP, Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, spoke in the press conference: “I am deeply aware of the nature of the human rights suppression by the Chinese communist authority. While the European Union and other media organisations are keen on doing business with China, they should not ignore China’s violations of basic human rights, especially the problems of freedom of speech and freedom of obtaining information.” Fifty-four members of the European Parliament and national Parliaments from European countries, Dr Tannock included, expressed their strong disbelief of the incident and wrote to the head of Eutelsat asking him for an explanation and to reconsider the decision.
The Green party in the European Parliament issued a press release, calling on Eutelsat not to yield to pressure from the Chinese Government. Mr Helga, a Green Party Member of Parliament from Germany and Vice-Chairman of the Culture Committee in the European Parliament, said, “Eutelsat should abide by the highest standard of freedom of speech, especially when dealing with the world’s number one abuser of media freedom. People in Asian countries should continue to enjoy their right to watch programmes made by NTDTV.”
Mr White , General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, which has five hundred thousand members, said in the press conference, “It is totally unacceptable for a mainstream media company like Eutelsat to violate the value of democracy and freedom of speech. What they did completely contradicts the work of journalists. The International Federation of Journalists strongly supports NTDTV to take legal action.”
NTDTV, headquartered in New York, is well known for its original, broad and accurate reports on China’s human rights, political, economic and social problems. Since its inception, NTDTV has suffered political, economic and diplomatic attacks by the Chinese authority. All satellite companies to whom NTDTV signed cooperation agreements suffered strong pressure from Chinese regime, without exception.
Appendix: Information on Eutelsat
Chairman & CEO
Tel. +33 1-539 848 23
Fax: +33 1-539 846 64
(Beretta’s right-hand public relations person)
Tel. +33 1 539 938 88
Fax: +33 1-539 848 23
Chief, Eutelsat, Inc.
Tel. 202 - 756 - 1382
Tel. 202 - 415 - 3430
Tel. +33 1-539 835 71
Fax: +33 1-539 838 99
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