Member of the European Parliament Requests Action from the EU over the Eutelsat Incident

The first Plenary Session of the European Parliament was convened in Brussels from the 1st to the 4th of September after its summer recess. Continuous concerns were expressed by the European Parliament Members over the incident of shutting down NTDTV television broadcast signals into Asia by Eutelsat. During the Session, Mr. Bart Staes, MP of the European Parliament from the Green Party of Belgium, accepted a special interview and said that the EU should be further requested to take action over the Eutelsat Incident.

Bart Staes, MEP from the Green Party of Belgium

Mr. Bart Staes, a strong supporter of NTDTV since early 2005, has been closely following the Eutelsat Incident. In June this year when Eutelsat shut down NTDTV television broadcast signals into China, he wrote special articles of appeal on his website with a letter to the President of Eutelsat demanding restoration of NTDTV television broadcast signals into Asia.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) exerted pressure upon Eutelsat to refuse its service to NTDTV broadcasts.

Reporter: How do you think about the importance of free flow of information in China?

Mr. Bart Staes: It is necessary to have free and independent media where there is democracy. In this way, people can have free access by themselves everyday to what is happening both in the world and in their own country. There will be no democracy if there is no free and independent media.

Reporter: What do you think of the current situation in China?

Mr. Bart Staes: I have been very concerned about the situation of NTDTV television broadcast signals over the recent months. I think that it is obvious that the reason for shutting down NTDTV television broadcast signals into China by Eutelsat is political rather than technical. For instance, we can see from the free investigation by Reporters without Boarders which has indicated that there are sufficient spare locations in Satellite W5 operated by Eutelsat, as BBG has withdrawn from it, for instance. Voice of America left Satellite W5 as of 1st August and then there are spare locations in the transponders used by it. Therefore, it is certain there are spare locations in Satellite W5. I think that the Management of Eutelsat might fear the Chinese Communist regime and has been forced by its pressure.

Reporter: Being a European statesman, what is your viewpoint on the Chinese Communist regime’s pressure upon a European company to exercise its news blockade?

Mr. Bart Staes: This is a very bad signal in terms of democracy. The Chinese Communist regime knows well about this. In the EU, many government officials and the EU organisations all have a very big demand and that is, through the Olympic Games, much freer and more independent reports about what is happening in both China and the world would be realised. However, it is sad to say and I must admit that even the Olympic Games have failed to make the Chinese Communist regime to be democratic and modernised in this respect. When NTDTV television broadcast signals into China were shut down by Eutelsat, I took action immediately through the European media against the act of Eutelsat.

Eutelsat should ensure its service to its customers.

Reporter: How do you think about the refusal of Eutelsat to restore NTDTV television broadcast signals into China by way of continuously using the technical reasons?

Mr. Bart Staes: The so-called technical reasons are sheer nonsense. A lot of evidence has shown that there are sufficient spare locations in Satellite W5 that can be used for broadcasts. Although it said it was technical reasons, the fact is that it yields to the pressure of the Chinese Communist regime.

Reporter: What do you expect of Eutelsat in respect of news freedom?

Mr. Bart Staes: Eutelsat should not act upon political reasons but act as a real satellite service provider. A real satellite service provider will offer various possibilities to its customers to ensure what they want to do. NTDTV is a customer of Eutelsat. Eutelsat should do in this way and not yield to the pressure of the Chinese Communist regime as it is now technically possible to broadcast NTDTV television signals into Asia. The EU should take action.

Reporter: You supported NTDTV three years ago when the Eutelsat Incident happened. Now the shutdown incident has happened again. What is your viewpoint on this?

Mr. Bart Staes: We have not seen any progress during this period. I hold that we should further strengthen our stand towards the act of the Chinese Communist regime in this incident. The Members of the European Parliament, European Parliament and the EU organisations should help NTDTV with its television broadcasts. Many actions are now being taken within the European Parliament, one of which is a written statement that will be become a resolution of the European Parliament once it is signed by more than half of its Members. I will certainly support this statement.

Mme. Viviane Reding, an EU Commissioner in charge of communications, has recently written a letter to Eutelsat requesting explanations on the shutdown of NTDTV television broadcasts into Asia. Mr. Bart Staes has expressed his full support for her action and she will also receive support from the European Parliament. The European Parliament Delegation to China should take its responsibility to put pressure on the Beijing authorities to ensure that the free and independent media become possible.

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