[lg policy] Georgia's Russian language Broadcaster Loses Case Against Eutelsat

r.amirejibi-mullen at QMUL.AC.UK r.amirejibi-mullen at QMUL.AC.UK
Tue Jul 13 18:42:03 UTC 2010

The fate of Georgian Public Broadcaster?s (GPB) Russian-language First  
Caucasian Channel remains unclear after GPB lost the case against  
Europe?s leading satellite operator, Eutelsat, in the Paris court of  

Maya Bichikashvili, deputy general director of GPB, told Civil.Ge on  
Tuesday, that in its ruling on July 12, the Paris-based court rejected  
GPB?s motion demanding from Eutelsat to restore the Russian-language  
channel back on W7 satellite operating at the 36 degrees East - a key  
location for broadcasting in Russia and other CIS states. GPB was also  
seeking reimbursement of financial damage caused by removal of the  
First Caucasian Channel from Eutelsat?s satellite.

GPB claimed that Eutelsat violated a contract by putting First  
Caucasian, the channel mainly targeting audience in Russia and its  
North Caucasus, off the satellite less than two weeks after it started  
broadcasting in January.

Eutelsat cited the end of trial period behind its decision, saying  
that no contract was in force with GPB. But the Georgia authorities  
blamed Eutelsat for yielded Russia?s pressure. Russian officials have  
condemned the First Caucasian Channel as Georgia?s ?anti-Russian  
propaganda? and an attempt ?to plant ideology of extremism? in North  

Eutelsat has denied Georgia?s allegations and said that in 2009 it was  
negotiating with several customers interested in the same capacity on  
W7 satellite and decided to allocate this capacity to Moscow-based  
Intersputnik, which leased 16 transponders on W7 for Gazprom Media  
Group?s Pay-TV provider NTV-Plus. Eutelsat said that it had received  
?a firm commitment? from Intersputnik ?for significantly more capacity  
than that requested by the Georgian broadcaster?. Eutelsat has offered  
GPB to place the First Caucasian on W2A satellite as an alternative,  
but the offer was rejected by GPB, citing that the newly offered  
location was not properly covering the geographical area it was  
interested in.

After its removal from the satellite, the First Caucasian Channel was  
only available for viewers in Tbilisi through cable networks and on  
internet. But in early June the channel suspended broadcasting -  
although still keeping presence on internet - pending the decision of  
the Paris court of commerce.

The GPB deputy general director said that no final decision was yet  
made by the broadcaster about the future of its First Caucasian Channel.

According to GPB court costs, related to case against Eutelsat, was up  
to GEL 900,000 (about USD 490,000).


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