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How Eutelsat, a French Satellite Operator, Helps Keep Russia’s TV Propaganda Machine Online


“If the European authorities impose new sanctions against Russian channels, we will stop their broadcast,” the corporate mentioned. It added: “At this stage, no regulator or other competent authority has asked us to stop broadcasting private Russian television channels in Russia.”

Phillipoff and Lange have been turning their attraction to politicians, however with minimal impact. “We sent letters to all French members of the European Parliament,” Lange says. “Not a single answer.”

How, precisely, Paris or Brussels would possibly pressure Eutelsat to dam these Russian channels is an open query. Lange and Phillipoff say that if the European Union can ban the English-language Sputnik and RT stations from their airwaves, sanctions ought to have the ability to take away Russian-language TV from their satellites. In May, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen informed the EU Parliament they’d ban three new broadcasters “in whatever shape or form, be it on cable, via satellite, on the internet, or via smartphone apps.”

Politico has reported that these three broadcasters are Russian-language information networks that attain Europe, with some assist from Eutelsat’s satellites.

Eutelsat informed WIRED, “We are aware of the European Union’s intention to sanction three Russian channels, two of which are broadcast on our satellites, and we are ready to immediately cease broadcasting them as soon as the corresponding European regulation is published.”

The United States not too long ago slapped sanctions on three Russian-language TV stations, together with NTV (the flagship station of supplier NTV+), after concluding that they’re “spreading disinformation to bolster Putin’s war.” Those sanctions are more likely to have an effect on their overseas income, however not on their Russian operations.

Going after the satellites themselves can be a vastly disruptive escalation. Moscow and Kyiv are already taking intention at every others’ satellite tv for pc communications.

Western intelligence companies say, within the hours earlier than its invasion, Russian hackers took intention at American satellite tv for pc supplier Viasat. “Although the primary target is believed to have been the Ukrainian military, other customers were affected, including personal and commercial internet users,” the UK’s National Cyber Center mentioned in a joint assertion with the US and EU.

Earlier this week, simply forward of Russia’s Victory Day celebrations—which provided Moscow a primary alternative to mission energy amidst its stalled struggle—the State Special Communications Service of Ukraine introduced that “[television] broadcast from the Russian satellite to the occupied Ukrainian regions was unexpectedly turned off.”

As WIRED has reported, Ukraine is aggressively deploying American- and European-provided Starlink terminals, whereas Russian satellite tv for pc communications stay troubled.

European cooperation isn’t restricted to Eutelsat’s satellite tv for pc tv. Eutelsat owns two subsidiaries in Russia, together with house web supplier Konnect. In flip, the Russian state satellite tv for pc operator owns a small stake in Eutelsat itself. (Corporate paperwork say most of tje 3.62 p.c possession stake corresponds to the Russian Satellite Communications Company, or RSCC.)

Meanwhile, some two dozen nations make up the Moscow-based Intersputnik consortium, primarily in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Its members embrace the Czech Republic, Romania, Germany, and Ukraine. In 2020, France introduced its intention to hitch Intersputnik.

Intersputnik managed a part of the Soviet Union’s satellite tv for pc fleet, earlier than being privatized after the autumn of the USSR. Moscow’s affect on the group is pretty obvious: The chair of its board is a senior civil servant within the Russian authorities.

As the West continues its messy divorce with Russia, a company like Intersputnik might enable Russia to launch and keep satellite tv for pc service, underpinning not simply tv, however web service, navy communications, and geospatial imaging.

The Diderot Committee’s Lange and Phillipoff hope that this present combat might allow extra open flows of data sooner or later—that’s what informs the tongue-in-cheek title of their group. As its web site explains: “On July 6, 1762, simply 9 days after the coup d’état of June 28 that put her on the throne, Catherine II invited the French thinker Denis Diderot to come back to Russia in an effort to publish L’encyclopédie, which had been banned in Paris. Diderot accepted her invitation and arrived in St. Petersburg in October of 1773.”

Had Russia not pushed again in opposition to France’s censorship, the Encyclopédie, one of the essential works of the Enlightenment, could have by no means been printed.



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