French audiovisual authorities ban broadcasts of Al-Aqsa TV

10 June 2010

The European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) and the Coalition Against Terrorist Media (CATM) wholeheartedly applaud the decision by France's High Audiovisual Council (CSA) ordering Eutelsat to desist immediately from broadcasting Al-Aqsa TV's violent and hate-filled television programmes that incite hatred on grounds of race, sex, religion or nationality.

This decision comes immediately after the European Commission issued a formal warning to France to ban broadcasts of Al-Aqsa TV, thereby requesting its High Audiovisual Council (CSA) to enforce existing European audiovisual legislation banning television programmes that incite religious, racial and other hatred and violence. The French Foreign Ministry said that the "European Commission has recorded repeated violations of European legislation resulting from the content of programmes of Al-Aqsa TV - broadcast in Europe via French satellite Eutelsat - and inciting hate and violence."

"We welcome the measures taken by the CSA establishing that Eutelsat immediately cease the transmission of Al-Aqsa TV. This is a channel that has systematically and consistently violated French and European audiovisual law with its violent broadcasts inciting hatred, promoting terrorism and terrorist ideologies," said Roberta Bonazzi, Executive Director of the European Foundation for Democracy. "EFD holds freedom of speech as among the highest of democratic values. French and European legislation prohibit incitement to religious, racial and other hatred and violence and terrorist organisations should not be permitted to abuse Europe's freedom of expression principles," Bonazzi continued.

"There can be no doubt about Al-Aqsa TV's goals and editorial line: these broadcasts radicalise its viewers and put European citizens - particularly of a young age - at risk," said Alexander Ritzmann, EFD's Senior Terrorism Analyst. "Al-Aqsa TV continues to be available in Europe via Arabsat, whose largest shareholder is the government of Saudi Arabia. European governments and citizens should also demand that Arabsat drop Al-Aqsa TV from its offering," Ritzmann continued.

The CSA has previously issued a formal warning on 3 November 2009 reprimanding Eutelsat for broadcasting Al-Aqsa TV.

Al-Aqsa TV broadcast throughout Europe on Eutelsat's Atlantic Bird 4A satellite. Eutelsat is Europe's leading satellite operator and one of the world's top three providers.

Al-Aqsa TV is the television channel of Hamas, which is on the European Union's list of terrorist organisations. On 18 March 2010, the United States Treasury Department designated Al-Aqsa TV as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity (SDGT), noting that Al-Aqsa TV airs programmes and music videos "designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”.