Интерньюс призывает Президента Кыргызстана наложить вето на предложенный парламентом закон о вещании

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan—Internews Network in Kyrgyzstan has issued an appeal to Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev to send a controversial new bill, “On Television and Radio Broadcasting,” back to Parliament for reconsideration.

Internews’ appeal asks Bakiev to weigh the legislation’s “pros and cons again, keeping in mind that the current edition of the law may affect all broadcasters in the Kyrgyz Republic, which in turn will cause serious consequences for the whole population.”

There has been limited transparency or consultative process in the development of this legislation. Information available about the initial version worried advocates of media reform in Kyrgyzstan. The most detrimental aspects of the bill include:

  • an annulment of the Law on Public TV and Radio passed last year, which strikes a piercing blow to hopes of comprehensive Kyrgyz media reform;
  • empowering the president to appoint the director of the Kyrgyz National Television and Radio Corporation (removing any Parliamentary or civil oversight);
  • stipulating that stations produce 50% original programming (an impossibility for cash-strapped media);
  • requiring that 60% of programming be produced in Kyrgyz and Russian (handicapping stations in the south of the republic who broadcast in Uzbek).

Internews has asked the president to draw his “attention to the fact that the law is being pushed for in an extremely hasty fashion, which affects the quality of its provisions.” Internews is concerned the obstacles will force some stations to close, and that the only reliable source of information in many regions will be lost. “If the law gets adopted, there will be the threat that outlets will not meet the requirement and close down, leading to a potential information vacuum in many regions of the country,” the statement said.

Internews Network offered to help the Parliament fund and conduct public hearings on the draft law, proposing to bring interested parties together on April 29. However, Parliament voted in favor of the bill on April 24, bypassing consultations with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, broadcasters, and civil society.