NEW YORK-The TV network with the only uncensored broadcast into China gained a temporary extension on Friday of its agreement with satellite company Eutelsat. But the final outcome is still uncertain.
“The battle is not over,” said Samuel Zhou, VP of Programming at New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV). “There may still be a bigger battle in front of us.”
The network noted in a press release that the support from more than 50,000 letters from viewers and 93 members of Congress to President Bush, as well as letters from 73 members of the European Parliament and 25 members of Canadian parliament to Eutelsat’s chairman, were crucial in keeping the network on the air in China, at least temporarily. Letters from viewers in China that describe how whole villages gather to watch the broadcasts also expressed dismay that the signal might stop.
“We still need people’s support on this,” said Zhou. “It’s a difficult situation.”
Eutelsat reportedly has received intense pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to halt NTDTV service over Asia. Eutelsat has claimed the decision to not renew the contract for NTDTV to broadcast in Asia was made purely for business reasons, even as they continue to provide NTDTV service in Europe for the same programs.
“They’re now coming back to the table to talk to us. The signal will be there during the talking,” said Zhou.
Zhou says legal action against Eutelsat could be taken if the negotiations are unsuccessful.
NTDTV, based in New York and available on four continents, broadcasts a variety of programs in Chinese language, such as entertainment, documentaries, talk shows, sports, and educational. Its news reports on such subjects as SARS, political unrest, and religious persecution in China would be banned by the CCP. China is regularly near the bottom of international rankings of media freedom.