Olympic coverage in China is still blocked by Eutelsat, the French communications company which owns one of the three satellites capable of beaming programs throughout China.
Since June 16, they have refused New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) and three Mandarin radio stations including Sound of Hope (SOH) any access to their Asian channels.
It has come to light through Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontiers, RSF) that the technical problems which Eutelsat say are preventing them from honoring their contracts do not exist.
RWB has obtained new information indicating that the satellite is able to transmit NTDTV broadcasts to Asia today but have succumbed to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to prevent NTDTV from broadcasting.
A Eutelsat employee in China confirmed that the Chinese regime has been pressing Eutelsat to stop NTDTV’s programs.
NTDTV have consistently reported on issues such as human rights abuses, the persecution of Uighurs, Falun Gong and Tibetans, as well as the suppression of information inside China concerning, for example, the near pandemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which started in China in November 2002, bird flu, the discovery of military debris near the epicenter of the recent earthquake, etc.
The CCP also tried to suppress NTDTV’s signal in 2005.
NTDTV is free to view for anyone with a satellite dish and also allows people to receive the transmission using small satellite dishes (40-80 centimetres or 15-30 inches in diameter). These are easily hidden from Chinese authorities who fear independent news flowing into the country.
NTDTV provided the only opportunity for mainland Chinese to receive uncensored news which differs greatly from China’s state controlled media. This fact was highlighted in the run up to the Olympics when issues concerning the Olympic flame fiasco were unmentioned on state run broadcasts.
RSF have written to Giuliano Berretta, the head of Eutelsat, urging him to resume transmission of the Chinese-language television station thereby ending a crisis which has damaged the company’s credibility.
“One of your clients, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which handles the broadcasts of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, has withdrawn from W5,” RSF say in their letter. “This therefore leaves sufficient capacity on one of the transponders, C2, for restoring NTDTV. In fact, in July, BBG was using your satellite to broadcast five TV stations and 12 radio stations to Asia.”
That there is room on the W5 transponder has been confirmed by BBG who told RSF that they have not used Eutelsat since August 1. Yet the response NTDTV has had from Eutelsat is always the same, “We cannot resume broadcasting for technical reasons. Please contact our competitors.”
But these competitors are non-starters for NTDTV as one of the other two satellites is owned by the Chinese Communist Party and the third belongs to Intelsat, a company which, over many years, has not responded to NTDTV's attempts to communicate.