Advanced Television

EU complains again over sat-links to Russia

November 23, 2022

Thirty-nine members of the European parliament have written to the EU’s top legal officials demanding that Europe’s two giant satellite operators immediately take down Russian-backed channels from their portfolios of broadcasts.

Various EU officials have already complained about Eutelsat’s carriage of Russian channels. Eutelsat has said it wants to be politically neutral and in addition has certain contractual obligations with non-Russian wholesale carriers of channels.

“Despite the sanctions, the satellite companies Eutelsat and SES have continued providing services for the broadcasting of Russian war propaganda in the European Union, in Ukraine, in Russia and beyond, including in Africa,” a parliamentarian letter said.

The letter was written by two EU members: French lawmaker Nathalie Loiseau and Estonian delegate Andrus Ansip. In their letter which was supported by the other Members, Ms Loiseau and Mr Ansip stated that the satellite operators have failed to comply with sanctions against Russia. The letter confirmed that Eutelsat has allegedly worked with Russian officials to block American and European-backed channels from pay television systems in Russia.

This means that Russia is allowed to beam propaganda from RT and Sputnik throughout Europe and parts of North Africa with apparent impunity, while depriving Russian citizens of alternative media sources who are able to provide a fuller picture of the conflict in Ukraine, the lawmakers alleged.

“Eutelsat has allowed two Russian pay-TV platforms, Tricolor and NTV-Plus, to stop broadcasting some Western TV channels in the Russian Federation, so that there is now almost no access to alternative sources of news or international channels in Russia,” the letter argued. “Eutelsat thus contributes to fuelling the Russian public support to Putin’s war and prevents them from having access to independent news sources.”

“Russian audio-visual media services are subject to regulations of the Russian Federation which do not guarantee pluralistic media landscape. Unfortunately, the current legal framework and Council decisions do not provide adequate legal basis to prohibit all Russian channels broadcasting in the EU,” the letter argued. “Therefore, we, as elected members of the European Parliament, call for a complete suspension of broadcasting of Russian TV channels and radio stations that spread hatred and disinformation in the context of the war in Ukraine to be included in a future package of European sanctions, which would give it unassailable legal force.”

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