NTDTV Awarded Court Inquiry in Lawsuit Against Eutelsat

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On June 16, 2008, NTDTV's broadcast over China was suddenly cut off. At the time, the French satellite company Eutelsat blamed the termination on a "power anomaly." But later, Reporters Without Borders revealed that the interruption was in fact a politically-motivated move by Eutelsat to appease the Chinese communist regime.

Now two years later, the Paris Court of Appeals has ruled that it will appoint an expert to find out what was really behind the termination.

Attorney for NTDTV, Joseph Breham, explained the significance of the decision.

Joseph Breham, NTDTV Attorney:
"This decision will act as a possible counter balance against totalitarian regimes, both now and in the future. If those satellite companies bow before pressure, justice will await them. In order to protect the interest of consumers, [the satellite companies] will face economic, legal, political and ethical sanctions."

The Court of Appeal's decision overturns an earlier judgment by the Paris Commercial Court. It had declined to hear the case because Eutelsat argued NTDTV did not have a direct contractual relationship with it when the service terminated.

Judge Marcel Foulon of the Court of Appeals did not accept that argument.

Joseph Breham, NTDTV Attorney:
"The judge rejected the argument put forward by Eutelsat, and reached the opposite conclusion. He ruled that as long as Eutelsat was an indispensible part to the execution of NTDTV's satellite broadcast contract, then it needs to be held responsible for its poor performance."

Asia Director of Reporters Without Borders Vincent Brossel, says the decision was a win for NTDTV.

Vincent Brossel, Asia Director of Reporters Without Borders:
"This is a very important legal precedent, because Eutelsat will directly face its political and technical responsibility. This is a win for NTDTV, and a loss for Eutelsat's public relations strategy."

Francoise Hostalier, member of the National Assembly of France, wants the investigation to progress quickly, so that NTDTV's broadcast over China will resume.

Francoise Hostalier, Member of the National Assembly of France:
"I feel very happy for NTDTV. Right now my wish is that the investigation can progress rapidly, and that the expert can obtain all the relevant information and prepare a report in the shortest time. In the end, I hope Eutelsat can follow the rules and allow NTDTV's programs to resume broadcasting over China as soon as possible."

Aside from finding out the true cause of the broadcast termination, the court-appointed expert will also determine whether NTDTV suffered any economic damage as a result of Eutelsat's actions.


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