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China 13 September 2005

Contract finally signed for NTDTV long-term broadcast on Eutelsat satellite

Reporters Without Borders today hailed the accord signed on 1 September granting independent Chinese-language broadcaster New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) long-term use of a Eutelsat satellite, which will allow it to continue broadcasting to Asia and China in particular.

“The international campaign in support of NTDTV has not been in vain,” the press freedom organisation said. “This TV station has the merit of offering alternative news to the Chinese people and its disappearance from the Chinese media landscape would have been a real loss for free media.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “We urge international Chinese-language radio and TV stations to use W5 satellite to broadcast without the Chinese government’s censorship.”

NTDTV’s new contract guarantees the channel the right to broadcast freely over Asia via Eutelsat for the next six years in a technically satisfactory manner and at a reasonable cost. This agreement creates a larger opening for the free flow of information into a very restricted media market.

NTDTV’s agreement with Eutelsat, a European satellite operator with headquarters in France, was only approved after months of talks. The satellite operator is not supposed to get involved in questions of content and refused to comment on the renewal contract. Eutelsat’s name does not directly appear in the contract and even the intermediaries involved have contractually refused to let their names appear in the press.

The issue of NTDTV’s long-term contract with Eutelsat had hung in the balance since April. Reporters Without Borders had reminded Eutelsat several times that article 3 of the convention under which it operates requires it to respect equality of access, pluralism and non-discrimination.

Eutelsat and its broker had been reluctant to renew with NTDTV ever since being told by the Chinese government in May 2004 “put an end to this broadcasting immediately.”

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