The Taipei Times explains that NTDTV has a launched a petition to protest this action and the petition ought to make good reading to all those caring human rights lawyers here in Europe:
Up until now anyone in China wanting to watch NTDTV (New Tang Dynasty Television) has had to so secretly after first investing in a satellite dish wired up to a telly that's preferably hidden in a subterranean cave. But even all that effort will be to no avail when on Friday Paris-based Eutelstat ends its agreement to broadcast NTDTV into China, even though its the only non-government controlled, Chinese language station available to the nation's fact-starved millions.
Why is Eutelsat doing this? It won't give a reason, but word has it that Beijing has warned it that, if doesn't pull the plug, it won't be granted rights to broadcast the 2008 Olympics.
There's also the fact that the French are leading the EU to lift its arms embargo on China soon, paving the way for some tasty new business, while one of Eutelsat's affiliates has already clinched a deal with China's Ministry of Information (sic) to supply broadband.
Come the 2008 Olympics there might even be a new sporting event - jumping though the Beijing hoop.
Eutelsat is in violation of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, as well as the Convention for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, regarding free expression and universal information access. Eutelsat·s own Inter-Governmental Convention bylaws require equal access, non-discrimination, and respect for pluralism, and NTDTV is clearly in compliance with those rules.
Eutelsat is setting an alarming precedent for repressive governments that wish to censor satellite broadcasts into their territory. As Eutelsat Chairman Giuliano Berretta emphasized when he met with NTDTV·s Board of Directors last year: censoring broadcasts would be a dangerous practice for his company·s business model, and indeed for the satellite industry as a whole.
However the real aim of the petition is the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Av, Washington, DC, USA who may be interesting in modifying his government's broadcast satellite contracts. On the other hand it occurs to me that NTDTV would probably find a sympathetic audience in Japan which is somewhat irked with the communists at the moment and also has a number of satellites to do broadcasting.