French Council of State overrules regulator

France’s Council of State has overruled the broadcasting regulator Arcom’s assertion that it lacks the legal authority to order Eutelsat to stop transmitting the signals of Russian TV channels on its satellites.

The Council of State, which acts as France’s supreme court for administrative justice, issued its summary ruling in response to a request from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for an injunction against Arcom’s claim.

According to RSF, it ruled that there is a “serious doubt about the legality” of Arcom’s position and ordered the regulator to re-examine RSF’s request that it instruct Eutelsat to stop broadcasting three Russian TV channels, Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV, to Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic countries.

Commenting on the decision, Christophe Deloire, RSF secretary-general, said: “This decision is a victory for the right to reliable news and information, and for the fight against the Kremlin’s war propaganda. We are pleased that our legal arguments prevailed against a regulator that resorted to the most minimalist possible reading of the law to justify its claim to lack authority, and used all sorts of arguments, even the most obviously spurious ones, as grounds for taking no action”.

RSF notes that by recognising there is a serious doubt as to the legality of Arcom’s refusal to act, the Council of State is in effect forcing Arcom to order the French satellite operator to stop facilitating the provision of Russian war propaganda to no fewer than 15 million satellite TV subscribers, who represent approximately one-third of Russian households subscribing to TV channels, or 25% of all households in the Russian Federation.

RSF lawyer Patrice Spinosi said: “This victory is a very important first step.

“It reminds Arcom of its duty to protect media freedom and France’s international obligations. The way is now open to a general ban on French satellite operators such as Eutelsat from contributing – beyond the European Union’s borders or in territories illegally occupied by the Russian army – to the dissemination of political propaganda and reporting that incites hatred, violence and war crimes”.

RSF also said that The Council of State ruling notes that “neither Arcom nor Eutelsat seriously disputes the reality, ongoing nature and extent of the harmful consequences likely to result from broadcasting the programmes in question to the audiences who receive them.”

from Broadband TV News