French censorship of Chinese-language broadcaster must end

6 October 2008

French censorship of Chinese-language broadcaster must end

This week a number of MEPs from different political groups will use an official European Parliament 'political declaration' in an attempt to give teeth to their demand that the European Commission and the member state governments lend their weight to a campaign to stop the censorship of news broadcast to China. In June French satellite firm Eutelsat ceased transmission of news, some of critical of the Chinese authorities, into China by broadcaster NTDTV, ostensibly because of 'technical problems'. Though a declaration would have no binding force, it would increase pressure on the European Commission to act to stop this blatant interference with media freedom.

Erik MeijerNTDTV has cast doubt on the purported 'technical problems', given declarations from internal sources that assert the opposite, that the break in transmissions was due to Chinese pressure on the satellite company. NTDTV, an independent news broadcaster which tens of millions of Chinese people are able to watch, suspects that this is the case. SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer drew attention to the matter at the beginning of July, and at the end of August the European Commission gave the impression in the press that they were asking the satellite firm for an 'explanation'. But the answer that Meijer received just after that, in September, indicated that the Commission had downgraded the matter to "discussion of commercial decisions of a private corporation." International organisations of journalists are also looking into the matter.

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