RSF asks French regulator to order Eutelsat to stop carrying Russian war propaganda
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has asked France’s broadcasting regulator, ARCOM, to order French TV satellite operator Eutelsat to stop carrying three Russian TV channels that are spearheads of the Kremlin’s war propaganda.
“France cannot tolerate a situation in which operators under its jurisdiction are contributing to the Kremlin's war propaganda in violation of their legal obligations. France’s broadcasting regulator has the ability to put an end to this situation, and we call on it to act without delay.
In a formal request submitted on 8 September, RSF asked ARCOM (the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication) to order Eutelsat to stop broadcasting the three Russian disinformation and propaganda TV channels. The six-page request was accompanied by a 266-page report.
The content broadcast by the three channels incites hatred and genocide, and violates requirements that the law places on broadcast media and satellite operators with regard to respect for human dignity, safeguarding public order, and the “honesty, independence and pluralism of information and programmes that contribute to it.”
On the grounds that the French state has a 22.65% stake in Eutelsat and France is a depositary of the EUTELSAT IGO international convention, RSF previously asked the French authorities on 13 July to get Eutelsat to stop contributing to Russian propaganda by carrying these TV channels and to reassign the freed satellite slots to independent TV news channels. This request to ARCOM aims to achieve the same goal by other means.
One of the world’s biggest TV satellite operators, Eutelsat uses two satellites to transmit TV channels packaged by the Russian companies NTV+ and Trikolor to Russia and occupied Ukraine. These two companies have around 15 million subscribers, representing about a third of Russian homes with subscriptions or 25% of all homes in the Russian Federation. The TV channels they carry include Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV, which are the spearheads of the Russian war propaganda machine.
Throughout their programming, these three channels constantly broadcast statements that, under French law, constitute incitement to hatred and violence against the Ukrainian population, calls for mass extermination, calls for the murder of leaders, and even incitement to genocide.
As these three TV channels are broadcast by a French TV satellite operator, they come under French jurisdiction and, in particular, are subject to oversight by ARCOM (the former CSA) under France’s 1986 broadcasting law.
The request to ARCOM, submitted by RSF lawyer Patrice Spinosi, is accompanied by a detailed report compiled jointly with the Denis Diderot Committee (a collective founded by two media experts in March that promotes the free flow of news and information). The report includes many extracts from programmes broadcast by the three TV channels and names the Eutelsat satellites that carry them.