Satellite operators try and solve EU dilemma
November 25, 2022
The EU has demanded that Eutelsat and SES curtail their carriage of Russian channels. But the demands, which affect Eutelsat more than SES, are extremely tough to resolve.
Almost all broadcasters have taken down RT, the former Russia Today, following on from decisions by the likes of the UK’s media regulator Ofcom. Eutelsat has also responded by saying that its contractual obligations – either for those channels with which it has a commercial relationship, or in its dealings with its wholesale clients who themselves have broadcasters which are sub-leasing bandwidth – make simple removal of a broadcaster extremely difficult.
There is also a considerable difference in how Russian channels are seen in Europe, and more importantly outside of Europe. India, as a case in point, has a significantly closer relationship with Russia, for example. There are also Middle East nations which continue to enjoy warm diplomatic – and commercial – relationships with Russia.
While there are wider anti-Russian sanctions in place from organisations such as the US, the United Nations as well as Europe (and individual countries) these are not wholly observed by many Mid-East and Asian nations. Where contracts are in place from non-European broadcasters and satellite operators then it is a legal and contractual minefield to seek to cancel or nullify or even to modify those agreements.
Sources suggest that the European satellite operators are working hard to square this circle of challenges, but it isn’t easy.
It is also a challenge to educate and inform key media about these difficulties. Without media’s understanding then the public, hugely and rightly sympathetic to Ukraine’s dilemma, find it difficult to understand the commercial realities that operators are working under.
It is also a fact that by the time some of these difficulties are resolved it could be that the war will be over. Few in Europe expect this to happen for some time, but inevitably the conflict will end and then – perhaps – after a suitable interval, life will return to a degree of normality for satellite operators, pay-TV aggregators and distributors, as well as the end user viewers and subscribers.