Letter to President of Kyrgyzstan on Uzbek-language TV

To: His Excellency Mr. Askar Akayev, President of Kyrghyz Republic, Fax: (996-3312) 21-69-22; 21-86-27, E-mail: ghpress2@rhl.bishkek.su

Your Excellency,

As it was informed by Osh Media Resource Center on June 29, the Kyrghyz Republic’s State Commission on Radio Frequencies issued a decree that obliges OshTV – a private TV-station based in Osh, southern Kyrghyzstan with the main language of broadcasting being Uzbek and covering mainly Osh town’s ethnic Uzbek audience – to cease broadcasting on fifth VHF (very high frequency) channel and to switch to 23rd channel on UHF (ultra high frequency). The latter not only would require special receivers from viewers to watch Osh TV programming, but would also reach a smaller audience.The decree dated 29 June and signed by the chairman of the State Commission, Esen Topoev (who is also Kyrghyzstan’s defense minister) rejected Osh TV’s appeal to prolong its license to broadcast on VHF fifth channel, put a deadline for ceasing Osh TV’s broadcasting – 01.07.2000 (July 1st), and assigned the Kyrghyz National Agency for Communications to oversee the implementation of the decree.

According to Khaliljan Khudaiberdiev, Osh TV director who had previously contacted a number of governmental agencies in an effort to find support, the State Commission’s decree contradicts with the official position of the presidential administration on Osh TV’s case.

Prior to this decree, Khaliljan Khudaiberdiev received an offical letter on May 16 from the Kyrghyz president’s aide and press-secretary Osmonakun Ibraimov who informed Osh TV director of the fact that National Agency for Communications has prepared all relevant and necessary documents for prolonging the expiration date of Osh TV’s license on VHF broadcasting and that the solution will be come out in the nearest future.The issue of switching broadcasting frequency for Osh TV arose in October, 1997 when the newly formed National Agency for  Communications revoked licenses from all private TV stations in Kyrghyzstan for re-registration. There were further efforts on the part of this agency to revoke Osh TV’s license in 1998, but they failed due to Osh TV’s strong resistance. This resistance allowed Osh TV to bring the case to the presidential administration’s attention. In March, 1999 the National Agency on Communications, pressured by the president’s administration, agreed to allow Osh TV’s broadcasting on VHF with the period of duration of 9 months. After this period expired, Osh TV was obliged to switch to UHF broadcasting on channel 23rd.According to Khaliljan Khudaiberdiev, the process of changing from VHF to UHF broadcasting is extremly costly for the station’s budget. About 2 million soms (local currency) (US$42,675) is needed to change equipment and infrustructure necessary for UHF broadcasting. More
importantly, the change of frequency can result in the loss of the majority of Osh TV audience mostly ethnic Uzbeks). Mr. Khudaiberdiev did not rule out the possibility that this process might lead to Osh TV’s closing down.

Your Excellency,

Journalists’ Trade Union [JuHI] as a member of International Freedom of Expression eXchange [IFEX] network calls on you to do all in your power to ensure freedom of media in your country and to follow international obligations to which Kyrghyzstan is a part. We hope that this problem will be solved by your attention during a short period of time. At the same time we call on you to review the cases of Moldosali Ibrahimov of ‘Akiykat’ newspaper and Hakimjon Husanov of ‘Mezon’ TV.

Thanks a lot for Your attention and regards,

Mr. Azer H.HASRET, Founder and Chairman
Journalists’ Trade Union [JuHI]
33 Khagani, Baku 370000 AZERBAIJAN
Phone: [994 12] 474559. Fax: [994 12] 474561
hasret@azeurotel.com; hasret2013@yahoo.com; azer2013@mail.az

Source: MinElRes

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