Eutelsat has once again found itself in the spotlight over the distribution of sanctioned Russian TV channels.
Recently the Denis Diderot Committee pointed out that at the end of July the DTH platform Tricolor reinstalled Pervij Kanal (Channel One), Rossiya 1, NTV and Ren-TV on the Eutelsat 36B satellite. This followed reports that the Express AMU1 satellite (Eutelsat 36C), managed by Russia’s RSCC, was experiencing technical difficulties as a result of interference organised “by a neighbouring state”. Viewers, especially those based in Kaliningrad, were advised to reorient their reception equipment from 36 degrees East to 56 degrees East (served by Express AT), where their offers were duplicated. This would nevertheless take a while, given that Tricolor is the leading provider of pay-TV services in Russia with just over 12 million subscribers.
In the meantime, its decision to put the four channels back on Eutelsat 36B was, as the Denis Diderot Committee pointed out, in violation of European Union sanctions and the French regulator Arcom’s formal notice. Following what was described as “citizen action”, Eutelsat intervened “vigorously” with Tricolor and succeeded in removing three of the channels – Pervij Kanal, Rossiya 1 and NTV – from its satellite, with the fourth, Ren-TV, disappearing on the following day.
While this was clearly a result for the Denis Diderot Committee and others campaigning against the distribution of Russian channels, it is by no means the end of the story. Indeed, Eutelsat has still not implemented sanctions adopted by the European Union last December against Russia’s VGTRK and National Media Group (NMG). Furthermore, Russian channels continue to be distributed by Eutelsat on Tricolor and NTV-Plus in occupied parts of Ukraine, including Crimea.
Eutelsat has already been impacted financially by the sanctions on Russian channels, with its total video revenues in the year to June 30 falling by 8.3% to €705 million. Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see how it populates Eutelsat 36D, which is currently in production and would be expected have Russian clients once operational.
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