Independent Chinese Broadcaster Reaching More Viewers in Asia

October 20, 2011 10:19 pm Last Updated: October 20, 2011 10:34 pm

A Chinese-language news network that the Chinese regime has sought to shut down is now reaching many more potential viewers in Asia with a new satellite broadcast that started this week.

The European satellite company Eutelsat severed New Tang Dynasty Television’s (NTD) 24/7 broadcast to Asia in June 2008. At that time Eutelsat caved in to the demands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to cut NTD’s signal, in order to gain business benefits, according to Reporters Without Borders and other groups.

NTD was able to continue broadcasting to Asia using other satellite platforms, but the station lost an important capability. The alternative satellite broadcasts did not provide a KU-band signal, which can be received by small satellite dishes.

Since Oct. 18, NTD’s signal has gone out on Koreasat-5, which is operated by the telecommunications conglomerate KT, a spinoff of the former South Korean Ministry of Communications. The KT signal restores to NTD the KU-band signal.

The new broadcast covers a large area in Asia as well as the northeastern coastal corridor of China, with overlap from the Eutelsat broadcast in areas around Shanghai and Beijing.

The communist regime is a determined adversary of NTD’s unfiltered news reports on corruption, human rights abuses, and lawlessness in China. Apart from pressuring Eutelsat to cut its signal, the Party has also carried out campaigns aimed at preventing people from installing the kind of satellites that can receive NTD’s signal, and confiscating thousands of the units.

A 2008 report from the Chinese Office of Administration for Industry and Commerce, available online, said the office had uncovered 272 illegal online retailers, 342 illegal retailers, 4,089 sets of satellite receiving equipment, 7,376 receiver boxes, and 11,312 sets of antenna, satellite dishes, and accessories.

By shutting down those operations, it said, it “has made a positive contribution in order to prevent an overseas, anti-Chinese government … [organization from] using a satellite broadcast as a propaganda media.”

NTD, which describes itself in a press release announcing the broadcast as “completely beyond the grasp of the Chinese communist regime’s editorial censorship,” is an unspoken target of these anti-satellite receiver campaigns.

After its signal went down in 2008 NTD was inundated with support from viewers, according to the company’s press release.

Enterprising Chinese have gone to surprising lengths to catch NTD’s signal where it is available in China, including jerry rigging cooking woks for the purpose, NTD spokesperson Samuel Zhou said in a telephone interview.

The plans for a new satellite had been kept under wraps until testing had been conducted and the signal was confirmed stable.

“Chinese communities in Asia can now get uncensored information in the Chinese language, independent from China’s state-controlled media,” Zhou said.

“China is important in the region, so our news is certainly relevant to Chinese communities, who need truthful information about China issues and the world,” he added.

Representatives from KT were not available for comment at press time.