Pesky Chinese ch 'to sue' Eutelsat

Chris Forrester

New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) is proving to be a nasty irritant for Eutelsat. Last June NTDTV argued that Eutelsat had – in effect – thrown the channel off one of its satellites. Eutelsat responded by claiming - with some justification - that its craft had suffered a major malfunction. Now NTDTV says it will sue the Paris-based company.

NTDTV, via its mouthpiece The Epoch Times, has persistently alleged that the cut in transmissions was premeditated owing to pressure from the Chinese ahead of the Beijing Olympics. A report at the time from Reporters Without Borders quoted a transcript of a Eutelsat staffer in Beijing stating that it was a decision made at Eutelsat’s Paris HQ.

This past January the EU passed a resolution calling on Eutelsat to resume NTDTV’s broadcasts which Eutelsat has yet to do. Eutelsat insiders say lack of transmission capacity placed them in a difficult position, and that NTDTV is free to choose another satellite in the region. European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, in an interview earlier this month, compared NTDTV to Western radio that encouraged himself and others to hope for freedom in communist Poland. He expressed support for NTDTV.

Now NTDTV is ratcheting the argument up, and says it will use French law to see an independent expert appointed by the Court to access Eutelsat’s inner workings and determine the facts as regards the ending of transmissions.

Eutelsat might well find an opportunity to comment during this coming Friday’s annual results presentation.