On the eve of its presidential election, Kyrgyzstan has imposed a ban on real-time broadcasts by international – primarily Russian – TV channels.
Earlier in June, the former-Soviet republic’s parliament passed a law “On Information Security” which was proposed by the Ata-Meken (Fatherland) Socialist Party, led by presidential candidate Omurbek Tekebayev. Under the law, during the election campaign all international TV channels available in Kyrgyzstan can only be shown on delayed feed, reports Rosbalt news agency.
Prior to deciding whether the video is suitable for being aired or not, Kyrgyz broadcasters will have to watch and record international TV channels’ programs. Then, if no untoward messages are detected, they will be shown to the republic’s viewers. Programs and reports that discredit presidential candidates will be cut out.
Even though the measure is supposed to be related to all broadcasters, Rosbalt notes, there is an impression that it is mainly aimed at Russian channels that often harshly criticize Kyrgyz politics and politicians.
“If a TV program and journalist’s judgments presented in it sting honor and dignity of a presidential candidate or a party running for seats in the parliament, such a program may not be shown,” Omurbek Tekebayev is cited as saying. In case if a Kyrgyz broadcaster makes public a scandalous story providing no trustworthy evidence, its leadership may be punished. This does not refer to foreign media though since it is against the law, he said.
Now the vexed problem that chiefs of Kyrgyz channels are facing is how exactly the new rules can be followed. First of all, there are no clear criteria for what is suitable or not for being shown on TV. Secondly, there are no professionals who would be able to deal with the task. And, finally, the majority of Russian TV channels are being broadcast through cable networks.
The presidential vote in Kyrgyzstan is scheduled for October 30.