Swedish Politician Strongly Opposes NTDTV Shutdown

By Pirjo Svensson
Pirjo Svensson
Pirjo Svensson
July 14, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015
 (AFP/Getty Images)
(AFP/Getty Images)

The top Swedish politician Göran Lindblad has reacted strongly to Eutelsat shutting down of the NTDTVs program to China. “It is a disaster that they have stopped [the broadcasting],” says Lindblad, who would like to start a global debate about how China’s government restricts freedom of press outside of China.

“Bowing to pressure from the Chinese Communist regime, the European satellite company Eutelsat shuts down NTDTV, the only uncensored Chinese-language TV channel that millions of mainland Chinese relied on,” said top European politician Mr. Göran Lindblad.

Göran Lindblad, President of the Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe has contacted Eutelsat and sent a press release on Friday 11th July to the Swedish media.

“I wrote a letter to the CEO of the Eutelsat, telling them that this is not acceptable and hoping this is not true. Actually, I have so much information now, and sadly enough I know this is true,” said Göran Lindblad, President of the Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe.

On June 16th, the European satellite company took NTDTV off the air, claiming technical reasons. But media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RWF) exposed on July 10 that the real reason is “a premeditated, politically-motivated decision violating the free flow of information and the convention under which Eutelsat operates”.

RWF said it has incrimination evidence to support their claims in the form of a recorded conversation June 23 with a representative of Eutelsat in Beijing.

In an interview with NTDTV, Lindblad said that the incident is a “hand-in-hand situation where you have a very greedy capitalist company and a very repressing regime” collaborating to suppress the freedom of speech.

“First, it is a disaster that they have stopped [the broadcasting], but then there is a very strange situation where Eutelsat said there is technical reason, which is not true. Instead, they shut it down because they want to have better business with communist China. And that is really outrageous. We have this recording that RWB have—the recording in which a high-ranking officer at Eutelsat told someone (whom he thought was representing the communist government) that they did shut it down and blame technical difficulties. They wanted to obey the wish of the communist government by shutting down this special TV-channel, and that is absolutely not in accordance with the European rules and the French legislation, because this is a company that is stationed in France and they are not allowed to do that. This will be a big scandal,” said Linblad.

Reporter (R): I heard that you have written a letter to the Swedish media. What is this letter about and what do you wish to accomplish with this letter?

Göran Lindblad (GL): First, I wrote a letter to the CEO of the Eutelsat, telling them that this is not acceptable and hoping this is not true. Actually, I have so much information now and sadly enough I know this is true. And then, I sent a press release to Swedish media in order to have as much debate as possible. Hopefully…they will make some debate on this issue because it has to be discussed in all European countries, as well as all the countries in the world. For me, representing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, my main platform is Europe. We have a big debate on China in the last week of June in Strasbourg, and this should be followed up. Not allowing the freedom of speech, which is happening now with the television station, is not acceptable.

R: Do you think there is too little debate in the media about China?

GL: When the Olympics coming up there is more debate and more information about what is going on in China. I would say that Swedish media, as well as other media, is too lenient. They are sort of not checking enough the information they get. They are too kind to the Chinese government when presenting them. There was a program on the problem with lack of rain and pollution. And I would say that, had I done the program, it would have more criticism about what is going on, because everything in China now is sort of set up for the Olympics, which is understandable but the people are suffering. The repression is worse now than before. That should be debated in Europe as well as the rest of the world. It is important that many people go to the Olympics, but they should be aware of who they are dealing with, because this government in communist China is more or less a terrorist regime—terrorising its own population.

R: As a politician in Europe, what can be done about the situation? How can we act when the communist regime interferes in this way?

GL: Actually the interesting thing here is that the raw capitalists and the communists are now working together. The Eutelsat is interested in making as much money as possible. They want to use Chinese rocket to launch their satellites. They have not been able to do that because the communist regime told them they have to shut down the television satellite first. Now they have done that, blaming technical difficulties. They want to get big contracts in China. The communist regime on the other hand, they don’t want to have discussions – any freedom of speech, and any opinion other than those already censored by hem. Therefore you have a hand-in-hand situation where you have a very greedy capitalist company and a very repressing regime. Lenin said, once, if you give capitalists enough ropes they would hang themselves. Sadly enough, you can say the CEO [of Eutelsat] and the people in charge of the Eutelsat are hanging themselves together with the communist regime. This may also speed up the fall of the communist regime in China when the debate and pressure on the communists gets larger in the world. That could be the good outcome of it. That will speed up the downfall of the regime.

Göran Linblad profile: Göran Lindblad is a member of the Swedish Parliament since 1997, and the chairman of The Swedish Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). He currently holds the office of Vice President of PACE and President of the Political Affairs Committee (PACE). He is known in Sweden as well as internationally for his work for democracy and human rights. Being a skilled dentist, Lindblad is also a volunteer worker at the Rosengrenska Foundation that provides free medical treatment to immigrants. In 2006 Lindblad authored and championed the resolution, Need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes, at the Council of Europe.