London Supporters of NTDTV Look to European Parliament

January 13, 2009 Updated: January 13, 2009

For over four months, they have been protesting outside the offices of the satellite company that shut off the only uncensored TV signal into China. Now supporters of NTDTV hope that the petition signatures they have collected on the streets of London will help nudge the European Parliament into action to restore the broadcast into China.

“It’s quite simple, NTDTV is the only uncensored Chinese TV station by the Chinese Communist Party," said GeLi Cheng, one of the regular protesters outside the satellite company office in the capital. "So it’s very  important to Chinese people and is directly related to global media freedom."

NTDTV's signal was carried into China on Eutelsat's W5 satellite until it was abruptly cut just weeks before the Olympics. Eutelsat's initial claim that it was due to a technical fault was later refuted by press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders, who said they had evidence that the signal was cut by Eutelsat's CEO to curry favour with the communist regime in Beijing.

The petition of almost 7,000 signatures collected in London will be handed in to the European Parliament this week during their plenary session in Strasbourg. So far 315 MEPs have signed a European Parliament written declaration regarding the cessation of NTD's signal, which initiated in October 2008. This week, supporters of NTDTV and human rights in China are hoping more MEPs can sign the declaration.
Ms. Chang, from Taiwan, spends a lot of time talking to people and collecting signatures in London.  “I am very thankful to the support we’ve received from the European Parliament so far," she said. "I think that it is every country's, and everyone’s responsibility to protect the freedom of media and protect basic human rights. Ordinary people’s support is important, and Members of European Parliament could be even more powerful.”

“Without the freedom of media and broadcast, it is very difficult to let the Chinese people in mainland China know what’s really going on in the outside world.” said Sean McArdle, the co-ordinator of the protest outside Eutelsat's London office, who goes there five days a week to talk to people and collecting signatures. He is motivated by his knowledge of the effect of the Chinese Communist’s propaganda, explaining how it stops the Chinese people from knowing many truth about the world and it’s own government. He says that many people had responded very positively to their protest, offering support and sympathy.

Sean is grateful to those MEPs (Members of Parliament) who have signed the written declaration “Their heart is at the right place.” he said, adding that he sincerely hopes that the rest of the Members of the European Parliament will also consider signing the declaration.