Georgian TV channel loses French 'censorship' case

Image caption First Caucasian was on the air for only a few weeks

A Georgian TV station has lost its court case in which it accused a French satellite operator of blocking its programmes under Russian pressure.

The Russian-language channel, called First Caucasian, was suspended in January after only two weeks of test broadcasts.

Georgia demanded in a French court that the service be restored.

But the court backed the satellite operator, Eutelsat, which said there was no broadcast contract in place.

The editor-in-chief of Perviy Kavkazky (First Caucasian), Ekaterine Kotrikadze, said it had not yet decided whether it would appeal against the decision, but would be looking to renew its broadcasts with a different carrier.

"Currently our channel is under re-organisation. We will be back on air by the end of the year via satellite. We do not know yet which satellite will be used, we will soon start holding talks with different satellite operators," she told the AFP news agency.

First Caucasian had accused Eutelsat of acting as a "tool of Russian censorship" preventing the broadcasts, which were aimed at an audience in the North Caucasus region of Russia.

Eutelsat and Russia dismissed the claims.

The battle has been part of a propaganda war waged between Georgia and Russia, which also fought a military conflict in 2008, says the BBC's Tom Esslemont in Tbilisi.

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