Chinese TV case against Eutelsat rejected

23rd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 22 (AFP) - A French court on Tuesday rejected a plea from Chinese-language broadcaster New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) which sought an injunction to make Paris-based satellite provider Eutelsat overturn a decision not to renew its programmes from April.

PARIS, March 22 (AFP) - A French court on Tuesday rejected a plea from Chinese-language broadcaster New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) which sought an injunction to make Paris-based satellite provider Eutelsat overturn a decision not to renew its programmes from April.

NTDTV, which has the backing of several media watchdog groups, claimed in court last week that Eutelsat broke off a year-long contract after coming under political pressure from Beijing.

But the court accepted Eutelsat's argument that the decision to stop broadcasting NTDTV to east Asia was based on commercial considerations and was not a breach of the agreement between the channel and Eutelsat's distributor, the London Satellite Exchange.

"This was a year-long contract precisely because we were testing the market. But at the moment the beam that carries NTDTV is operating at just three percent of capacity," said Eutelsat spokeswoman Frederique Gautier.

"No one broke any contract. The court agreed and turned down NTDTV's case," she said.

At the court hearing on March 16 NTDTV's lawyer Pierre-Francois Ozanne said that a Chinese government official sent a letter to Eutelsat last May asking it to cut off NTDTV on the grounds that it was illegal in China.

"We have not succeeded in getting the emergency injunction. But we can now take the case back to another court for a fuller consideration of the arguments," Ozanne told AFP Tuesday.

Eutelsat said the decision not to renew its contract with NTDTV did not preclude a new contract in the future. It also noted that it continues to carry NTDTV on a satellite broadcasting to Europe.

"This is definitely not about freedom of speech," said Gautier.

Edited in New York, NTDTV has broadcast to Asia via Eutelsat's W5 satellite and covers issues not seen on Chinese state media like human rights and the crackdown on the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

In the past China has claimed that NTDTV is a front for Falun Gong, which is branded an evil sect by leaders in Beijing.

A number of Falun Gong practitioners work at the station as volunteers, but NTDTV president Joe Wang insisted they do not compromise the channel's claim to independence.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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