We, the undersigned, are gravely concerned about news that Eutelsat, the leading European satellite operator – partly funded by French public funds – has, under pressure from Russia, refused to broadcast the Georgian channel in Russian language, Perviy Kavkazskiy. [:]
Perviy Kavkazskiy is a new channel which reports from and throughout the post-Soviet area, especially the Caucasian region, namely in Georgia, Ossetia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia. It is already acknowledged as broadcasting a wider range of views than other Russian-speaking media outlets in the region. We cannot overstate the importance of this in relation to promoting democracy, rule of law and human rights in the wider Caucasian region.
To begin with, Eutelsat’s satellites W7 and W4 are the only ones to correspond to the antennas in possession of Russian speaking audience in the region. The refusal leaves de facto satellite transmission monopoly over the regional Russian-speaking audience to Intersputnik and its client, Gazprom Media Group, neither of which have an editorial line that differs from the Kremlin views.
What is more, we have noticed with concern that this is not the first time that this European satellite operator is suspected to engage in censorship. A similar stance has been taken in relation to broadcasting independent voices from China in 2008 and Iran in 2009.
We hope that the issue will be resolved quickly and that Eutelsat will ensure that it will broadcast a diverse range of views across Europe and the wider world.
It is of utmost importance in democratic societies that airing of independent and diverse views is protected. We call the European Union to ensure that broadcasting of diverse views is guaranteed in Europe and beyond.
Heidi Hautala (Finland, Greens/EFA)
Kristiina Ojuland (Estonia, ALDE)
Laima Liucija Andrikiene (Lithuania, EPP)
Richard Howitt (UK, S&D)
Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (France, Greens/EFA)
Leonidas Donskis (Lithuania, ALDE)
Vytautas Landsbergis (Lithuania, EPP)
Charles Tannock (Great Britain, ECR)
Further signatories to be confirmed – for an updated list, visit: