On October 11, Eutelsat pulled the plug out of two Kurdish channels, Med Nuçe TV and Newroz TV, at the request of the Turkish radio and television authority RTÜK.
According to the Turkish authorities the two channels have ties with the PKK, an organisation deemed illegal by Turkey and the European Union, after which Eutelsat decided to terminate the broadcasts, complying with French and European laws.
One of the channels, Newroz TV, is broadcast from Stockholm by the Swedish based company Stiftelsen Kurdish Media (SKM), who started proceedings against Eutelsat in order to re-instate the broadcasts on satellite.
The Paris commercial court has now ordered the satellite operator to bring back Newroz TV on the Eutelsat Hotbird, with a fine of EUR10,000 per day if Eutelsat does not comply with the order. According to the court, Eutelsat could not prove a link of SKM with the PKK and should continue the broadcasts.
The court ruled that “the interruption of transmission was a clear violation” and provoked “obviously illicit trouble” for SKM.
“They shut our news channel without evidence; that should not happen in Europe,” Faruk Nozhatzadeh, head of Newroz TV, told French news agency AFP. “In the countries we come from, these things happen every day… but in Europe it was shocking that Eutelsat took such a decision.”
As an added complication in the matter, the uplink of Newroz TV was facilitated by Belgium Satellite Services (BSS), the company that has just filed for bankruptcy in a Belgian court.
Newroz TV covers issues from East (Iran), Kurdistan and Iran and broadcasts in Sorani, Gorani and Kurmanci dialects of Kurdish and in Persian (Farsi). The channel remains available on Nilesat.