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State censorship of media by Chinese government must end

1 August, 2008

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has today sharply criticised the move by satellite TV operator Eutelsat to cut its signal to NTDTV a New York based Chinese information TV channel at what is believed to be at the behest of the Chinese government.

Ms McDonald said:

“NTDTV a New York based Chinese information TV channel last month had its satellite signal to China cut by Eutelsat,  a French company which is one of the top three satellite TV operators in the world broadcasting to over 2,500 TV stations to Europe, India, Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia.

“Eutelsat had previously tried to drop NTDTV but thanks to an international campaign supported by groups such as Reporters without Borders the global operator did not.

“Reporters without Borders believe this move by Eutelsat is due to pressure by the Chinese government who are unhappy with NTDTV’s critical editorial line of the Chinese government. It is also believed that Eutelsat is using its decision to drop NTDTV broadcasts as a bargaining chip with Beijing to increase their access to the Chinese market.

“I support today’s demand by Chinese free speech activists that the Minister of Communications Eamon Ryan writes to Eutelsat noting that RTE, which is broadcast on satellite by Eutelsat, is a state owned broadcaster and that the Irish government does not condone censorship. I also support the request that EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding to meet with Eutelsat to discuss the Union’s position on media censorship.

“The control of media sources by the Beijing government cannot go unchallenged. The restrictions of internet search engines and social networking sites within China are an affront to the democracy we in the west enjoy, rightfully.

“Sinn Féin fully supports the basic right to information. Freedom of the press is a basic cornerstone of a democratic rights-based society. Media operators too have a responsibility to uphold this principle.” ENDS

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