French regulator orders Eutelsat to stop carrying three Russian propaganda TV channels
In response to last week’s ruling by France’s Council of State at the request of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the French broadcasting regulator ARCOM has acknowledged its legal authority over French satellite operator Eutelsat’s transmission of three Russian propaganda TV channels, and has ordered Eutelsat to stop carrying them, as requested by RSF since September.
“RSF welcomes broadcasting regulator ARCOM’s decision on 14 December to order French satellite operator Eutelsat to stop broadcasting the Russian TV channels Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV. This decision, which we have been demanding since September, is a victory in the fight against propaganda and a victory for the right to information. RSF will now pay close attention to Eutelsat’s strict compliance with this decision.
ARCOM initially declined to accede to RSF's request to order Eutelsat to stop transmitting the Russian propaganda channels, claiming it had no authority over TV channels broadcast in other countries. RSF responded by appealing to the Council of State, which acts as France’s supreme court for administrative justice, and in a decision issued on 9 December, the Council of State instructed ARCOM to reexamine RSF's request.
In yesterday’s decision, ARCOM effectively agreed to RSF's request, saying it recognised its authority, “inasmuch as these channels are broadcast in Ukraine, a state that is party to the Convention on Transfrontier Television.” As these channels broadcast content inciting hatred and violence, in violation of the convention’s requirement to provide accurate news and information, ARCOM has accepted the consequences of its authority, and has given Eutelsat formal notice to stop broadcasting them.
In response to this decision, Eutelsat will now have to stop allowing its satellites to be used to transmit these TV channels – which constantly broadcast content that constitutes incitement to war crimes and genocide – to Ukraine, the Baltic countries and Russia, where they have been reaching about 25% of Russian households.
In this initiative, RSF has been working with the Denis Diderot Committee, a collective founded in March by media experts André Lange and Jim Phillipoff to promote the free flow of information between Europe and Russia without war propaganda and disinformation.
“These decisions are a great success,” Lange said. “We have demonstrated, with the help of RSF and its lawyers, that action by expert citizens can put an end to nine months of procrastination and inaction by politicians and agencies on a subject whose strategic impact is nonetheless extremely important.”