Western Media Pay Attention to the Contract Renewal between NTDTV and the French Satellite Communication Company

The Epoch Times, 18th March: The incident of the interference with the contract between New Tang Dynasty TV and the French satellite communication Company Eutelsat is now a point of concern for the western media. The Wall Street Journal Europe featured an editorial article with the title “New Tang Dynasty TV Station causes a commotion” on 16th March, criticising the French company for stopping the broadcast of NTDTV to Asian areas and pointing out that the Eutelsat Satellite Company, which has always boasted itself as upholding freedom of speech, is displaying double-standards. The real reason for Eutelsat refusing to renew the contract is that they are submitting and bowing down under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party.

The article mentioned that three months ago, in December 2004, a French court decided that the satellite company must stop broadcasting Al Manar, a Lebanese channel on the Allah Party. Back then the Eutelsat Satellite Company defended itself saying, based on the company’s “equality” and “anti-racist” policies, they will continue to broadcast the Al Manar channel. Nevertheless, later on, Al Manar’s TV licence was withdrawn in France because it promoted enmity towards the Jewish people.

On the 16th of March, Eutelsat was once again called to court. The plaintiff was NTDTV station, because the French satellite company decided to stop broadcasting NTDTV to Asia by the end of March.

The Wall Street Journal says: “It looks like Eutelsat has a double criterion, one set for use on the Allah Party, the other to entreat the Chinese authorities who have different opinions”.

The Wall Street Journal indicated, “New Tang Dynasty TV Station, whose headquarters are in New York, USA, is completely different from the terrorist Allah Party channel. Their TV programmes neither encourage terrorism nor have any racist content and completely accord with the requirements of the French telecast”. In an interview, Ms. Vanessa O’Connor, Eutelsat’s spokeswoman, explained to a Wall Street Journal reporter that they decided to stop broadcasting NTDTV’s programmes because of the “diversity of the contents” and the consideration of “economics and commerce”. O’Connor also emphasised that the Eutelsat Company did not do this because of pressure from the Chinese authorities. The spokeswoman added that NTDTV is represented by a branch company the London Satellite Exchange Company who signed a contract which ends in the middle of April. This branch company didn’t continue the contract.

The Wall Street Journey raised the question: “Eutelsat used to be a state-run enterprise, and now it’s a private enterprise. Why are they vindicating themselves so strongly this time? It’s very plain. Their company’s business regulation states that any TV station that pays on time, contains healthy programmes and helps free circulation of wealth and resources, will always be allowed to broadcast. Why is NTDTV treated differently, when it does not violate any of the above regulations?”

The Wall Street Journal analysed the situation in more depth: “Beijing’s effects behind the scenes of this incident are well-known and outspoken. NTDTV was founded in 2001 and is a not-for-profit organisation, as well as the only TV station to be uncontrolled by the authorities and broadcasting programmes to Mainland China. None of their news, entertainment and cultural programmes have been censored by the Chinese Government. They cover two hundred million Chinese viewers worldwide, including fifty million from mainland China”.

A director of NTDTV explained: “NTDTV did a timely report just after the start of the SARS crisis, which was three weeks earlier than the Chinese authorities.” In addition, this director mentioned that NTDTV also had large-scale, incisive reports on the death of Zhao Ziyang. Yet everyone knows the media of the Chinese authorities remained silent at first, and they only did a report of about a dozen words later on.

When analyzing more profound reasons under the surface of this incident, the editorial article pointed out: The Chinese authorities never loosened their grip on ideological control: They don’t allow any dissenting media to make a sound, because “China is a despotic and dictatorial country. Once information and communication flows freely, it will cause a serious threat to the Chinese Communist Party.”

The article revealed that last December, Eutelsat signed a contract with China Weitong Enterprises of China’s Information Communication Industry. People who know quite a bit about it believe that this time China Weitong Enterprises put huge pressure on the French Government. Because Beijing was also behind this, Eutelsat couldn’t stand the pressure and finally decided to cancel the contract with NTDTV, which made it very hard for NTDTV to find another satellite company willing to broadcast its programmes to China.

How did the European media look at this incident? The article quoted a speech from Adam White, the secretary-general of the International Association for Journalists: “This is a serious incident of news censoring. What’s more, Eutelsat is a French company, which has always been posed as upholding freedom of speech”.

The article ends by stating that Europe has always guaranteed freedom of speech. Fifty members of the European Parliament have already written to the Eutelsat Board Chairman. The letters read: We are all watching you and Eutelsat, watching to see whether you can maintain Europe’s most basic values. May this “satellite window” become larger, not closed.”

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