December 5, 2023


Put A Technology

How a French satellite operator helps keep Russia’s TV propaganda online


Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking at a forum.
Enlarge / Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in the course of the Moscow City Forum 2018 on July 18, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.

Getty Illustrations or photos | Mikhail Svetlov

Not long after Russia steamrolled into South Ossetia in 2008, efficiently annexing the territory of its southern neighbor, a team of Georgians banded with each other to set up a new Russian-language tv station, a voice unbiased of the Kremlin: Kanal PIK.

With the support of Georgia’s general public broadcaster, they signed a five-yr offer with French satellite operator Eutelsat to beam their station into the Caucasus. Just two weeks just after they released in 2010, Eutelsat notified PIK that they were being dropped. Their place on the satellite had been promised to Gazprom Media Team, a main pillar in Moscow’s tightly controlled media program.

Kanal PIK said in a statement at the time that the saga “leaves Intersputnik and Gazprom Media Group—both of which adhere to the Kremlin’s editorial line—with a de facto satellite transmission monopoly more than Russian-language audience.” Kanal PIK would purchase a location on an additional Eutelsat a calendar year later on, but the station struggled and went dim in 2012.

A lot more than a ten years on, Russia when once again finds alone trying to consolidate its info hegemony in the area. And, when again, Eutelsat is making it doable. But two specialists on the satellite field say it’s time that Ukraine’s allies move up and force Eutelsat to prioritize real reportage on the circumstance in Ukraine in excess of Russia’s point out-backed disinformation.

“It’s not usual that a French satellite is utilised for a propaganda war,” claims André Lange, one half of the Denis Diderot Committee. If their proposals are adopted, “it would be a bomb going off in the Russian media planet,” suggests Jim Phillipoff, a former satellite Tv executive and ex-Kyiv Publish CEO. He’s the other 50 percent of the Diderot Committee.

Shaped in March, Phillipoff and Lange’s committee has, primarily, only one recommendation: Unplug Russia’s primary satellite television providers from the Eutelsat satellites and change them with stations carrying independent and credible journalism into Russia. “That’s the best intention of our effort—to truly offer alternative media channels into the Russian television room that are not controlled by the Russian govt,” Phillipoff tells WIRED.

Russian television has been ubiquitously and unfailingly in favor of the war against Ukraine, dutifully selling Moscow’s official propaganda—and, all way too normally, disinformation. Satellite television is especially critical, specifically for places with inadequate broadband connectivity. The Council of Europe estimates that about 30 per cent of Russian homes shell out for satellite tv. About fifty percent of the place has satellite dishes on their households, Phillipoff suggests.

All those dishes are mostly calibrated to get signals from five satellites, all managed by Eutelsat. The two most critical satellites orbit at 36° east, providing them protection for substantially of Japanese Europe and western Russia: A single, 36B, is owned instantly by Eutelsat the other, 36C, is owned by the Russian authorities and leased to Eutelsat—which, in convert, leases house back again to Russian tv operators. The other a few satellites are owned instantly by Russia but managed by Eutelsat and include central, northern, and eastern Russia.


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