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SCANDAL. French stopped retransmission of the First Caucasian TV Channel

Publication time: 29 January 2010, 15:09

The retransmission of the First Caucasian TV channel broadcasted in Russian from Tbilisi was discontinued on Thursday by a French satellite belonging to the Eutelsat, Zurab Dvalim, the director general of the channel, said to the BBC Russia.

 

The First Caucasian worked in a test mode from January 15th to 28th and was swiched off when the test period ended.

 

The channel managers are now conducting negotiations with the French company about the conditions for using the satellite, Dvali said.

 

He believes the channel could have been be disconnected "with Russia's help."

 

In an interview with a BBC correspondent, Dvali didn't ruled out that Moscow was exerting pressure on France to prevent the company to extend the agreement.

 

A French paper, Le Figaro, wrote that the rumors about stopping retransmission of the First Caucasian Channel appeared on Tuesday. Representatives of Eutelsat told the newspaper that the retransmission was terminated due to the expiration of the trial period.

 

However, talks between the Georgian TV and the French company are continuing. The Eutelsat said nothing about the situation stating that "the company does not comment on ongoing negotiations."

 

Meanwhile, a source in the Eutelsat, as Le Figaro wrote, mentioned an "interference" from outside that was able to "harm" the company.

 

The French newspaper wrote, the Georgian side condemned Moscow but made no decision yet of what to do with the French satellite company - whether to express an understanding of its problems or to condemn it that it succumbed to the Kremlin's pressure.

 

The Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, as Le Figaro wrote, "objects" to "propagandize" Russian authorities.

 

Experts say the Georgian government founded the television station to spite Kremlin-funded Russia's television stations that broadcast throughout the region.

 

The channel was created by the Public Television of Georgia earlier this year. The founders said their main objective was "to bring truth to peoples in North Caucasus - to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan as well as to Russian republics in the Caucasus that fight against the Kremlin's armed forces ".

 

Le Figaro cites an unnamed French diplomat in Tbilisi who said on Tuesday that the "Kremlin is putting strong pressure on the Eutelsat to compel it to annul the contract with Georgia".

 

"If we won't agree with the France, we will air through another satellite," the director general Zurab Dvali said to the BBC Russia.

 

Le Figaro writes that the situation with the First Caucasian is similar to the situation in 2008 when the Eutelsat stopped retransmitting the Chinese channel New Tang Dynasty Television that was highly critical of the authorities in Beijing.

 

The company, however, always assured that the discontinuation of retransmission of the Chinese channel was caused not by political but by technical reasons.

 

Department of Monitoring,

Kavkaz Center


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