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Eutelsat ordered to stop broadcasting Russian channels

A still frame from a news broadcast on Rossiya 1. (Graphic by The Desk)

A French media regulator has ordered Eutelsat to stop broadcasting three Russian channels amid concerns that the outlets have spread misinformation and propaganda related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The order comes after the European Union sanctioned broadcasters based in Russia in response to the conflict in Ukraine, which saw several pay television companies drop channels like RT (formerly Russia Today), Sputnik and Rossiya 1.

Despite the ban, France-based Eutelsat has continued carrying Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV unencrypted on some of its satellites, which effectively makes the channels available in parts of Europe to TV watchers who have the proper equipment to receive satellite television.

Arcom, the country’s media regulator, initially said it lacked the authority to prevent Eutelsat from providing cross-border television signals. An administrative court ordered Arcom to review its decision after Reporters Without Borders filed a lawsuit challenging its lack of action.

This week, Arcom said it had new information that revealed the Russian channels were being broadcast into parts of Ukraine, in violation of a cross-border regulation regarding television signals. The fact that some parts of Ukraine fell within the Eutelsat footprint meant the satellite service would have to stop broadcasting the channels entirely, Arcom determined.

Officials at Eutelsat said they received the order and would stop broadcasting the channels this week. It was not clear if Eutelsat would continue providing the channels to Russian TV viewers and cable operators who rely on those signals to distribute to the channels to pay TV customers.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).