New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) has begun an effort to raise money toward directly renting or purchasing satellite access to broadcast into China after encountering problems with satellite providers denying service, owing to interference by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
NTDTV, an independent Chinese-language TV network, provides uncensored news concerning China and important issues such as human rights that the current Chinese regime finds threatening. The station has faced a variety of forms of interference from the regime, especially concerning its satellite broadcasts into China.
The most recent incident was on June 16, when Eutelsat, the satellite provider that had been broadcasting NTDTV on its W5 satellite since 2004, stopped the NTDTV signal, citing technical reasons. A July 10 investigative report by Reporters Without Borders revealed, however, that this was a premeditated act, owing to influence by the CCP.
The CCP finds satellite broadcasts threatening because they have no way of blocking the signal—and therefore resort to pressuring satellite providers to block independent news programming.
"We know that it only takes about six satellites to cover the entire world," said NTDTV spokesperson Carrie Hung. "However, CCTV, the CCP-owned TV station, is on 33 satellites around the world. So obviously, they are using this as an opportunity to monopolize the satellite industry so that when it's time they can use it to threaten the satellite companies. Many of these Western satellite companies, because of short-term interest, have caved into pressure."
Prior to using Eutelsat, NTDTV encountered similar problems with other providers.
In order to continue to reach those in China with access to satellite dishes, NTDTV is seeking to rent two satellite transponders, in an effort they call the "Freedom Satellite for China" plan. Transponders are units within a satellite that can be rented, instead of purchasing an entire satellite, which would run around $200 million before launching costs.
There are an estimated 30 to 40 million satellites dishes in China capable of picking up NTDTV broadcasts. Conservatively, this may mean as many as 100 million Chinese viewers, as it is known that families share receivers, and in rural areas, entire villages sometimes share just one satellite dish. Given the right technical information, anyone can tune into NTDTV if they have a dish.
Part of NTDTV's mission is to provide uncensored news to China—and Eutelsat's blocking comes at a time where unfiltered news is all the more important, with tainted food scandals, suppression concerning the Olympics and Tibet, and the Sichuan earthquake.
One transponder can carry multiple TV and radio channels, so NTDTV is seeking independent media to join with them in this effort. "The idea for this platform is to invite all the independent media to join us," says Hung.
"What NTDTV is doing here is taking the initiative, that first step, and we welcome everyone to join us, either in Chinese language or in English, as long their mission is to bring the free flow of information to … China," said Hung.
Having two transponders will ensure better coverage of China, and will also allow for continuation of the signal even with possible interference by the CCP.
NTDTV is seeking help with this initiative, through monetary donations, as well as any information or connections to those who would be interested in pursuing such a channel of free information into China.
The cost of renting two transponders will be $30 million to establish a 5-year contract.
The TV station is also asking people to spread this information, so as to let more people know about the situation in China and the importance of this initiative for independent news to reach China.
Ways to Donate
NTDV has set up a Web site for donations, by check or wire, at www.ntdtv.com/fsc.en
Please make the check payable to "New Tang Dynasty Television"
New Tang Dynasty Television
Attn: Freedom Satellite for China
229 W 28th Street, Suite 1200
New York, NY 10001
Please state the purpose of the fund as "Freedom Satellite Platform."
For further details, please visit the web link above