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RSF sues media regulator to stop broadcasts of Russian TV via French satellites, Bloomberg reports

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International activist group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has sued Arcom, the French media regulator, to reverse its decision on the activities of French satellite operator Eutelsat, which has so far been authorized to use its satellites to broadcast Russian television channels - Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV – reports Bloomberg.

As Christophe Deloire, the head of RSF, said in a statement to Bloomberg, “Arcom’s refusal to take up a major issue to fight propaganda and support journalism is very regrettable. RSF is asking the Conseil d’Etat to declare it illegal.”

To remind you, in September, the media regulator committed to reviewing RSF’s request to prevent Eutelsat from broadcasting the three propaganda channels via its satellites. However, on September 28, Arcom concluded there were no legal grounds for issuing such a ban because France was not the sole provider of satellite capacities, and therefore, wasn’t the unique source. Arcom also argued that the issue had little impact on EU citizens, with the audience of the channels being predominantly Russian.

In its today’s statement, RSF reiterated that Eutelsat was registered in France and that the channels were also available in the Baltics, which in EU territory, and in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Eutelsat Eva Berneke continues to insist on the operator’s «neutrality»:

“Anytime Arcom says this channel is a no-go we’ll take it down, which is what we’ve done with around 10 channels that were distributed,” she promised on November 22.

An Arcom spokesperson has confirmed that a legal claim has been filed for the consideration of the Conseil d’Etat (France’s top administrative court).

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and human rights activists are demanding that the French communications regulator put an end to the broadcasting of major Russian television channels through French satellites operated by Eutelsat. As they underline, the French operator is playing an instrumental role in spreading the Kremlin's propaganda, transmitting the signal to over 15 million households in the European part of Russia (which, in turn, accounts for 50% of Russia's television audience).

The signal from these satellites is received by around 15 million satellite TV dishes of two providers: Trikolor and NTV Plus. In all, the two Eutelsat's clients transmit more than 300 television channels and 50 radio stations. Apart from the Russian Federation, they operate on occupied Ukrainian territories, and even in Europe, where Russian-speaking subscribers in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania can access them through the gray market.

Apart from lending satellite capacities for Russia’s domestic broadcasting, Eutelsat also provides free-to-air transmission of six more Russian channels, including RT Arabic, across Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Eutelsat providing technical assistance to the Russian apparatus of war propaganda and incitement to genocide is morally unacceptable and contrary to the strategic alliance with Ukraine, human rights activists assert.

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