December 16, 2009 | Press Release

Foundation for Defense of Democracies Welcomes French Warning Against Hamas TV

Washington, D.C. (December 17, 2009) – The Coalition Against Terrorist Media, a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, praised France’s audiovisual authority for warning the French satellite provider Eutelsat against broadcasting Hamas’s television station, al-Aqsa.

The Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) decision to warn Eutelsat, which was officially made on November 3, 2009 but just released publicly, states that al-Aqsa TV “violates article 15 of the French media law of 30 September 1986 which prohibits all forms of incitement to hatred or violence on the ground of race, religion or nationality.” The formal warning to Eutelsat follows an informal one issued in December 2008.

Hamas is on the European list of terror-sponsoring organizations. In addition, it is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity by the United States.

“This is an important victory against terrorist media,” said FDD Executive Director Mark Dubowitz. “If Eutelsat complies with this warning and removes al-Aqsa television from broadcast, as we hope that it will, it will deal a severe blow to Hamas’s distribution efforts.”

Currently only Eutelsat and Arabsat, a Saudi-owned company, transmit al-Aqsa. Hamas is attempting to follow in the footsteps of Hezbollah, which at its peak had its al-Manar television station carried by 13 satellite providers but now is carried only on three.

“Terrorist media outlets, including Hamas’s al-Aqsa and Hezbollah’s al-Manar television stations, are much more than propaganda tools,” Dubowitz said. “They serve as operational weapons in the hands of deadly terrorist organizations, which use them to incite violence, recruit terrorists, raise funds, and conduct surveillance in advance of attacks. The CSA warning recognizes that al-Aqsa intends to cause harm by indoctrinating children into hate and promoting violent attacks.”

Al-Aqsa TV is broadcast by Eutelsat into Europe on its satellite Atlantic Bird 4A. Eutelsat is regarded as France’s leading satellite provider and is accessible throughout Europe.

The European Foundation for Democracy, a founding member of the Coalition Against Terrorist Media, worked closely with the CSA as it considered taking action against Al-Aqsa’s broadcasts.

The CSA’s warning notes that al-Aqsa broadcasts include “incitement to hatred or violence based on race, religion or nationality. These broadcasts do not respect the decision of December 2, 2008 when the Council warned Eutelsat against the continuation of the broadcasting of such programs by the al-Aqsa channel, which is contrary to Article 15 of the Law of September 30, 1986.”

The decision by the French CSA follows the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of legislation seeking to sanction satellite companies that broadcast terrorist media inciting violence against Americans.

The Coalition Against Terrorist Media has led a global campaign to remove terrorist media from the airwaves. Since the inception of this campaign, Hezbollah’s al-Manar television has been removed from 10 of 13 global satellite providers, following CATM’s support for its designation as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity. In addition, the coalition worked with Western advertisers to remove more than $12 million in advertising revenue from al-Manar. The coalition played an active role in winning the warning against Hamas’s al-Aqsa television by France’s audiovisual authorities. It regularly provides briefings to government and counterterrorism officials on terrorist online media.

CATM unites Muslim, Christian, Jewish and secular organizations in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East to remove terrorist media from the airwaves and the Internet. For more information please visit the FDD Terrorist Media Project.