August 20, 2008

France/China: Call for Eutelsat to Lift Bar on New York-Based Chinese TV

Text of report in English by Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists, on 20 August

Today the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called on the French satellite company Eutelsat to reinstall the Chinese-language television station NTDTV and three Mandarin radio stations, following their suppression for "technical reasons" on 16 June 2008. The IFJ says that the technicalities of this bar on the broadcaster look increasingly bogus.

"The likelihood is that official Chinese pressure has led to the exclusion of the United States-based NTDTV from access to the satellite," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It's time to end this absurd posturing and let NTDTV get back on the air."

The IFJ says that the so-called technical problems have evaporated since last week when Radio Free Asia and Voice of America stopped using the Eutelsat satellite. This means that there is a technical availability for broadcasting NTDTV, contrary to what the leaders of Eutelsat have claimed.

Eutelsat says that some of the satellite's transponders had to be turned off to allow the other 20 to keep going. But now there is undeniably space for transmission. Interestingly, no other channel seems to experience "technical problems" which have dogged NDTV.

The IFJ says that it is no surprise that the suppression of the NTDTV channels occurred precisely over the highly sensitive period of the Olympic Games in China and that the technical excuses do not seem to be founded. "We expect Eutelsat to stop hiding behind technical mumbo-jumbo and let this broadcaster operate freely", said White.

Originally published by International Federation of Journalists press release, Brussels, in English 20 Aug 08.

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