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JAMCO Online International Symposium

24th JAMCO Online International Symposium

January 2016 - August 2016

The Current State and Challenges of Television Broadcasters in Asia.

The Media Industry in the Kyrgyz Republic

A. Asanbekova
International Division, KTRK, Kyrgyz Public Television and Radio Corporation

The topic of this research is the media industry in the Kyrgyz Republic.
As the republic’s biggest broadcaster, Kyrgyz Public Television and Radio Corporation, or KTRK, is a key focus of the research.
The following research will also consider the measures and international laws that affect other Kyrgyz media, and use statistical data and public reports.

The topic of media in the Kyrgyz Republic is certain to attract interest. The country is not well known outside its borders, so the significance of this research will lie in examples of broadcast programming, and the industry development they underline.
Since the online symposium audience will contain an international element, I’d like to begin with a short introduction that covers Kyrgyzstan’s history, and its history of journalism.

The History of Kyrgyzstan

In the 1760s south Kyrgyzstan fell under the influence of the Khanate of Kokand. It was followed by north Kyrgyzstan in the 1820s and 1830s. Between the late 1700s and early 1800s the north Kyrgyz people began to build an independent relationship with Russia. In 1785 Atake Baatyr of the Sarybagysh people sent his first envoy to Russia. By 1855 the Bugu people had become part of the Russian empire; this marked the beginning of Kyrgyzstan’s annexation. In 1868 northern Kyrgyzstan was finally incorporated into Russia, while the south was conquered after the 1876 crackdown on the anti-Kokand uprising.
During this process the economic structure of the Kyrgyz people began to change. New developments were made in the study of geography, the natural world, history, and Kyrgyz culture. However, imperial Russia’s despotic and colonial policies led to a rebellion in 1916 which ended in tragedy.

The Soviet Era
The October revolution of 1917, the establishment of a socialist order, the right to national self-determination, and the creation of the USSR all had an enormous historical impact on Kyrgyzstan.
After the establishment of the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast (October 14, 1924), a Soviet-style nation evolved. It faced no political difficulties in achieving full independence in 1991.
During the socialist era, Kyrgyzstan developed into an industrial and farming nation. A key focus of education over this period was reducing illiteracy, setting up a new education system, and linking higher and mid-level education organizations. This produced people with expert knowledge.

Kyrgyzstan’s Independence
After the 1991 fall of the USSR, the Kyrgyz people faced a new page in their centuries-old history. On August 31, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan announced it had formed a new sovereign nation. The totalitarian and authoritarian structure used by the Central Communist Party Committee shifted towards a unitary and democratic system. Key principles of democratic government began to take root against old ideas of shared state ownership. Privatization took priority and new forms of ownership were established.
From a socio-political perspective the republic assumed the rights and attributes of a nation, becoming a fully-fledged member of the international community. However, cutting off economic ties with the former USSR had a negative effect on Kyrgyzstan. In 1993 high inflation led to the introduction of a national currency, the som. This meant the republic could form its own monetary and fiscal policies. That same year it enacted its first constitution as a sovereign nation.
Severe corruption, extreme social change, criminalization, and authoritarian leaders led to the current government being overthrown twice. (March 24, 2005 and April 7, 2010.) An interim provisional government led to the establishment of a parliamentary republic. Full authority is now held by the Jogorku Kengesh, or Supreme Council.
The complex socioeconomic situation meant Kyrgyzstan had to enact policies that looked in many different directions. It built external relationships that were key to attracting appropriate investment. Today it’s a member of the UN, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Commonwealth for Independent States (CIS), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Eurasian Customs Union.

History of Mass Media in Kyrgyzstan

Like other former Soviet socialist republics, the 1991 arrival of state sovereignty led Kyrgyzstan to develop an entirely new type of media.
Since 1991 our mass media has changed enormously in quality and quantity. When Kyrgyzstan achieved independence there were about 50 newspapers, while television and radio were restricted to national broadcasts. All of them were subject to strict control by the government and Communist Party.
The history of media development in Kyrgyzstan is one of constant transformation. Changes in the government attitude to mass media has been especially marked.

Media history can be divided into four stages up until 2004:
‐Stage 1 1991-1992 Declaration of a free media
‐Stage 2 1993-1995 Changes in government relationship, and in media role and function
‐Stage 3 1996-1999 A decisive split from the government
‐Stage 4 1999-2004 Redistribution and concentration of media ownership through the formation of media holdings

Popular uprisings in March 2005 led to a change in government. A key feature of this period was the escalation of an information war waged by publications unaffiliated with the government or conventional power structures.
The years between 2005 and today can be considered a fifth stage in mass media growth. It’s an era of new redistribution and concentration of media ownership.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages of Kyrgyz media history.

Rapid Development of Kyrgyz Journalism 1991-1992
From the late 1980s to early 1990s, anything associated with the Soviet or socialism was rejected. A new political system based on the liberal values of democracy took root, introducing the mechanisms of a market economy.
The first civilian TV stations appeared soon after independence was announced: Piramida, in Bishkek, Osh-TV in Osh, and Almaz, a radio station in the capital. But the growth of mass media through new television and radio stations was not as rapid as print media. This is partly because of the enormous investment required, the lack of experience in running small TV and radio stations, and a dearth of experienced staff. This is because the government previously held a monopoly on radio and TV. Unlike print media, the first civilian TV and radio stations focused on profit first. Independent reporting and analytical programming took much longer to appear. Kyrgyz cities quickly became packed with cable studios. Their content was largely focused on movies, animation, and commercials. Some of these eventually led to the opening of new TV stations and various production studios. 1991 to 1993 was a golden age for Kyrgyz journalism.

Major Changes in the Relationship between Mass Media and Power 1993-1995
An information war broke out between the anti- and pro-government media. Between 1993 and 1995 the government’s democratic principles began to fail. The president began to move power away from parliament, setting up a presidential system. In 1994 parliament was dissolved. The media was in a position to both disrupt and assist the administration’s plans. Top posts at the state-run newspaper, radio, and TV stations were appointed and dismissed at the whim of the president. They, along with the private media, joined battle.

An End to an Era of Mass-Media Security 1996-1999
Journalists instigated a wave of litigation, hearings and indictments. The administration attacked the media in an attempt to suppress it. Major media outlets such as KOORT (Kyrgyz Social Education Radio & TV), NBT (Independent Bishkek TV), Rabu Radio, and Evening Bishkek were all placed under the control of the first president’s family. Until 2004 they continued to try and take over other attractive media outlets, such as TV and radio station Piramida. Rachel Denber is Deputy Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of the international organization Human Rights Watch. She drew attention to this activity in an open letter sent to Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev in February 2005.
Television and radio were totally under the control of the National Frequency Committee, which was headed by the Minister of Defense. The committee could take a radio frequency’s usage rights from a media outlet at any time. It could also change the frequency, and force a station out of the 1-meter frequency band, limiting its broadcasts to the decimeter band.
During a series of tense political events in 2005 and 2009, it became clear that the administration would make constant and tactical use of the media under its control to fight anti-establishment groups. Methods used by the Soviet government were frequently adopted. For these reasons the mere concept of starting a public television broadcaster faced many challenges. The issue had been raised under the previous president: the public needs a mass media outlet that provides an objective and accurate report of national events. However, the Akayev administration saw no reason to build one.
It seemed as though a public television broadcaster was finally within reach after March 24, 2005. The new government publically agreed to its creation more than once. On June 21, 2005 the acting president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, accepted a national strategic plan to combat corruption. However, one of the anti-corruption policies included a suggestion to reform the state-run TV and radio broadcasting corporation into a public broadcaster. It was only in March 2007, two years after the initial statement of intent to build a public broadcaster that President Bakiyev signed a law regarding the KTRK (National TV & Radio of Kyrgyzstan). The law was written in cooperation with media groups and diet members, and was passed by parliament on June 8, 2006. All obstacles to the creation of a public broadcaster had finally been removed. But the decision of the members of the Observer Council (NS) was deliberately delayed for nearly six months. Thus the KTRK was placed back under the government’s control during the election period.
From 2005 onwards the rapid growth of the internet had an increasing effect on the nation’s sociopolitical situation. The internet allowed people to follow what was happening in the country in real time. Unlike traditional media, the internet was difficult for the government to control or suppress. It has the potential to support the development of free speech.
Independence helped Kyrgyz journalism move from communist journalism to democratic journalism: a major development. The democratic process cannot be reversed.
After two major collapses of the political system, Kyrgyzstan became the first central Asian nation to adopt a parliamentary system. This resulted in major changes in the activity of Kyrgyz media.

At present the major TV stations are as follows:

Public TV and Radio Broadcaster:
 ‐Kyrgyz Public Television and Radio Corporation (KTRK)
 ‐Public TV & Radio Station EITR
State-run TV or radio services (Seven regional TV stations):
Private TV or radio services (About 40 are registered, but only 15 or so are in use):
 ‐HBT (Independent Bishkek TV)
 ‐NTS (New Television Net)
 ‐Radio Station Piramida, Ltd.
 ‐#5 Channel, PLC
‐STS TV Channel
 ‐Osh-TV, TV & Radio Station
 ‐Alippe TV
International broadcaster:
 ‐Private company Mir, a TV and radio broadcaster for CIS nations

Broadcast Laws and Regulations

Kyrgyzstan’s mass media are regulated by the following numerous laws regarding rights:
  1. Constitutional rights (regarding inalienable human rights, and citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, and to freedom of the press)
  2. International law (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: freedom of expression as a human right, and citizens’ inalienable rights)
  3. Special laws relating to mass media (regulating the creation and activities of media organizations)
  4. Civil laws (regulating defamation, emotional damages, and other issues relating to publication of material by the media)
  5. Election laws (this includes election law, and laws which regulate media access during an election campaign)
  6. Criminal laws (the rights of journalists as a group regarding jurisdiction and responsibilities)
  7. Labor laws (regulating the way in which workers are organized by for-profit media organizations, and the labor unions and trade unions set up to protect the jobs, socioeconomic rights and benefits of those who work for media outlets.
  8. Tax laws (regarding media outlets that function mainly as a taxable economic force)
  9. Customs laws (regarding media outlets as organizations with the right to productive economic activity, that have duties and obligations, and are responsible for violating customs regulations relating to their activities)
  10. Fiscal laws (supervision by financial authorities of media income sources, capital, and size of paid investments)

In addition to these laws, the following also affect mass media activity, although to a lesser extent:
‐1997 Licensing laws
‐1998 Laws regarding communication, both electronic and postal
‐1998 Laws regarding commercials
‐1998 Laws regarding copyright and related rights
‐1999 Computerization laws
‐1999 Laws regarding science and technology information systems
‐2007 Laws regarding the state-run television and radio broadcasting corporation
‐2007 Law that restricts state-run media broadcasting about the activities of the Kyrgyz Republic’s Jogorku Kengesh.

The extent of mass media activity is restricted by the civilian and criminal laws of the Kyrgyz Republic, the relevant trial laws, taxation laws, and several presidential decrees.
KTRK accepts the restrictions of this legal framework, which outlines the legal, economic, and social framework within which any media outlet operates as an organization. It regulates the relationship between state institutions, social groups, corporations, organizations, and citizens, with the goal of allowing the media to function freely.

Reporting on Disasters

Kyrgyzstan is often badly affected by natural disasters.

-No. 112 “Law concerning acceptable use policy for TV and radio channels in order to communicate warnings and information to Kyrgyz Republic citizens during emergency situations” passed on March 3, 2014
-A memorandum about cooperation with the Kyrgyz Ministry of Emergency Situations means KTRK will provide information and warnings about emergency situations

Media Benchmarks in Kyrgyzstan

Media benchmarks that show the average number of viewers per day for Kyrgyzstan show that the most popular TV channel is the first state-run channel, KTRK. It has an average of 2,194,823 viewers each day. In second place is Russia’s Channel One (ORT). It has 1,197,141 viewers. It’s clear that Russian TV channels are popular in Kyrgyzstan. In third place is one of Kyrgyzstan’s biggest TV stations, EITR. It has an average of 1,186,922 viewers. In fourth place is Russian channel Russia-1, RTR, which is broadcast across the entire Kyrgyz republic. It has an average of 529,417 viewers each day.

Foreign Broadcasting and International Donors

At the dawn of Kyrgyz independence Russian mass media held undisputed rule over providing information to Kyrgyz citizens. This was in many ways a legacy of the Soviet era. Russia’s Channel One was broadcast over the same area as the republic’s national channel. Kyrgyz also read many Russian newspapers, and consumption of Kyrgyz media was only a small percentage of the whole. Residents of our republic often knew more about life in Russia than they did about life at home. However, the rising number of independent, Kyrgyz-language newspapers, and the economic problems that made life harder for Kyrgyz residents led to a massive drop in the presence of Russian media.
Local television and radio news channels focus mainly on national and local events. Most Kyrgyz get their international news from Russian channels. In other words their view of international events are largely framed by Moscow’s perspective. However there has been some genuine changes in this area. Many local channels have begun to show “Euro News” or “Discovery” more frequently. A wide variety of non-Russian media is available on the radio such as Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, Radio Liberty (Azattyk), and the BBC. Of these, two channels in particular broadcast in the Kyrgyz language: Azattyk (Radio Liberty), and the BBC. Radio Liberty began Kyrgyz-language programming on March 18, 1953. During the Soviet era, radio station Azattyk was the only alternative source of information Kyrgyz had about the situation at home and abroad. In the same way, radio played a key role in forming and strengthening democratic values in Kyrgyzstan. The Azattyk office was opened when independence allowed Kyrgyzstan to form a democratic nation. However the relationship between the new government and Azattyk was not always a happy one. The station provided domestic news to the people according to its own principles.
Today radio program Azattyk broadcasts for two hours a day on KTRK’s second channel, and for 90 minutes on Almaz Radio in Bishkek and Naryn, and on Salam Radio in Batken. It also has an internet site where people can read the text of the radio shows, or listen to the programs. Azattyk also produces “Wingasuizu Suro” (“Awkward Questions”) in cooperation with a KTRK channel, and owns a TV project called “Azattyk Plus”. Listeners in the former Soviet Union prefer Azattyk out of all the stations in the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty stable.
BBC radio began Kyrgyz-language programming on June 3, 1996. The first broadcast was just five minutes long, but today it is 30 minutes. Azattyk and BBC broadcasts provide the international standard that Kyrgyz journalists must look to when reporting domestic events. In regions along Kyrgyzstan’s borders, international broadcasts from Russia, the US, and other places provide channels in Kazakh, Uzbek, and Tajik. Kazakh TV channels such as El Arna, Khabar, and KTK are available in northern regions of Kyrgyzstan, such as Chuy province, and Bishkek city.
In other regions, especially to the south, the situation is more fraught. Programs from neighboring countries are common in certain Kyrgyz villages, and residents are very interested in these shows. The only Kyrgyz media is the state-run channel, and it’s unpopular in villages near the Kyrgyz border. In addition there are no transmitters in the southern region so the region has no access to any Kyrgyz television, but can watch a high volume of programming from the TV channels of neighboring countries. As a result these Kyrgyz citizens know more about life in neighboring countries than in their own. They often see news about events in their own country through Uzbek or Tajik news channels. This reveals the material and technical weaknesses of Kyrgyz electronic media.
Another issue is the underdeveloped professionalism of Kyrgyz journalists. This cannot be solved by the state alone. Financial support from Western organizations plays an outstanding role here. The largest and most effective forms of support come from USAID, the Internews Network, the Soros Foundation, the UK’s Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Freedom House, PROON, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE), the Democratic Committee of the US Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic, the Eurasia Foundation, and others.

The following foreign programs are currently broadcast on KTRK’s channels:

‐BBC:Two television programs each day, and a radio news program every day
‐Azattyk Media Radio & TV Broadcast Management Committee: Two television programs each day, and a radio news program every day
‐CNR (China National Radio): Daily music shows broadcast on the radio
‐CCTV International Russian: Daily TV news broadcast on television

For reference, here are some examples of projects set up and still continuing in Kyrgyzstan.
Internews Network project Internews Network is a US-based NGO. It set up an office in Kyrgyzstan in 1995. It provides small grants to non-governmental electronic media groups to be used on technical assistance, training young journalists, lobbying governments, and carrying out journalistic research. The group set up, and continues to provide, well-known programs for news exchange.
Soros Foundation project Active in Kyrgyzstan since 1993, it provides financial support to the media through annual non-government contests that pay out small grants. It also pays fees for journalists to go abroad and attend international conferences or training sessions. It holds training seminars for new newspaper, television, and radio reporters.
It funds a large conference that tackles mass media issues on a republic-wide level. The foundation has a strong tradition of supporting the principle of freedom of speech and press through its approach and methods.
UK’s Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) Active in Kyrgyzstan since 2000. It provides reporting on the most pressing issues of the republic for foreign and local readers. It teaches international journalistic standards through training, seminars, and conferences. These are not traditional events; the group uses its own meticulous criteria to maximize each session’s efficacy.
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) The group began working with Kyrgyz mass media in 1999 through the civilian Swiss organization Simera. Until 2005 it focused on projects that dealt with mass media of the transitional era. Simera in particular has held regional conferences such as “Islam and Mass Media” regarding the ethnic problems in Fergana Valley, and “Central Asia’s Natural Resources.”
Freedom House project Active in Kyrgyzstan since September 2002. The group organizes and runs education projects for mass-media journalists and lawyers on legal responsibilities regarding printed matter. Freedom House’s most significant project to date was the establishment of an independent printing works in Bishkek in November 2003. This was done through funding by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The project was also supported by a social studies institute set up with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Eurasia Foundation project Active in Kyrgyzstan from 1993. It provides financial support to regional and national newspapers, TV, and radio. But this group did not engage in any socially significant projects. It’s less popular than other organizations. Its main focus is on the Fergana Valley, dealing with highly charged issues such as immigrant workers, border transactions, tariff barriers, and corruption.
Democratic Committee of the US Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic This project began in 1995. In the early era of creating independent newspapers, it provided tangible support such as computers and office equipment.
It also provided funds to conferences and seminars run by journalism-focused civic organizations. During the 2000 parliamentary and presidential elections, and the early parliamentary elections in 2007, it gave funding to monitoring electronic and print media activity. It has also given technical grants to develop new, independent electronic media.
USAID project Began media support work in 1995. It quickly set up several important projects, mainly through Internews and Counterpart Consortium. It provided technical support to independent newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, and communication companies. It funds training, conferences, seminars, and round-table talks regarding media issues. Between 2003 and 2007 its biggest project was an inter-republic one: “Protecting Freedom of Expression and Democratic Principles in Central Asia.” As part of this it carried out monitoring of Kyrgyzstan’s media.
PROON project (UN Development Plan) This group provided funds to a media initiative that favored the government. UN funds were used to hold a September 2003 conference that included the state-run media. The conference resulted in a media council set up by the president’s news bureau.
Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Adenauer Foundation project The Friedrich Ebert Foundation from Germany began working in Kyrgyzstan in 1993. It carried out two relatively well-known social projects in the media sector. In 1997 German specialist Gerhardt Pflaubel assisted in the forming of two laws. (“Freedom and Securing Approaches to Information”, and “Protecting Journalists’ Work”.)
The presidential initiative was passed by parliament. In 2002 the foundation was lambasted by democratic public opinion when it funded seditious behavior in conveying the current state of the comprehensive basic development plan to regional journalists.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) project The group began its activities in Kyrgyzstan when the first international “Central Asia Media Conference” was held in Bishkek in 1999. It went on to hold conferences on “Mass Media in Central Asia: Present and Future”, “Media Freedom in Times of Anti-Terrorist Conflict”, and “Freedom of the Media and Corruption.” In 2003 it held the “Fifth Central Asia Media Conference” in Bishkek.
HIVOS project This Dutch organization began working in Kyrgyzstan in 1994. It set up a large-scale, strategic program that focused on four key sectors. The field of mass media was a priority sector. For unknown reasons this program was later changed, and the media lost its priority position. Instead the group now focuses on small enterprises and the human rights sector.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) project The IFJ became active in Kyrgyzstan in April 2002. The federation’s representative arrived in Bishkek and set up a pilot project for creating an independent journalist labor union for the country. Local public body “Journalist” was taken on as a member of the IFJ in 1999, and the project continued in partnership with both groups. This cooperative project led to the 2003 formation of the Kyrgyzstan Journalists’ Labor Union. This is a first, not only for the country, but for all of central Asia.
International Media Support (IMS) project This European group based in Copenhagen began working in central Asia in the autumn of 2002. It carried out preliminary research on regional media and in May 2003 it held a conference in Bishkek between central Asian editors and publishers. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan all took part. A strategic shared platform was set up to allow European donors to support local media.

Kyrgyz Public Television and Radio Corporation (KTRK)

Channel KTRK
Address Jash Gvardya Blvd, 59 Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720010
Telephone +996 312 655 662
Fax +996 312 392 404
Status Public
Broadcast encoding PAL
Service Access TV: 5 channels
Radio: 5 channels
Internet: (online programming)

Related laws state that KTRK’s management is subject to the following conditions:

‐An observer council is the highest governing body
‐A chairman is elected as an executive post.

The observer council represent the interests of society at large and guarantee that the corporation will abide by the public broadcasting regulations. The rules regarding make-up of the council are clear, and are strictly enforced.
The observer council is made up of 15 people: equal numbers of parliamentary members, presidential officers, and public citizens. No matter who proposes their nomination all council members must also be recommended by an educational, scientific, public, or non-profit organization.
One of the key functions of the observer council is electing and dismissing a chairman. As this post is an executive one, this is a major responsibility for ensuring KTRK’s channels maintain their quality.
The chairman is elected once every four years by the council, and is required to report to the council.
The chairman can submit a report to the council regarding the appointment or dismissal of a vice-chairman. The chairman will guide the corporation, manage the departments under their control, and be responsible for addressing any issues that arise for the corporation.

Kyrgyzstan is a multi-ethnic nation. The most commonly used languages are Kyrgyz, Russian, and Uzbek. Most major newspapers are published in these languages. However Kyrgyz journalism traditionally functioned on a bilingual system of Kyrgyz and Russian. During the Soviet era Russian dominated, but after independence Kyrgyz-language media developed rapidly.
KTRK offers a concrete example. Its broadcasting division is as follows:
‐Broadcast Regions: 98% of Kyrgyz Republic’s inhabited areas
‐Broadcast Net: Terrestrial waves (analog and digital), satellite, cable and internet broadcasts
‐Broadcast Language: Kyrgyz and Russian (by Kyrgyz law, at least 50% of all TV and radio broadcasts must be in Kyrgyz)

Ensuring at least 50% of all programming is in Kyrgyz is key
Under the “Kyrgyz Public Television and Radio Corporation” law, the corporation is required to transmit at least half of all programming in Kyrgyz.
In 2014 72% of KTRK’s TV and radio channel broadcasting output was in Kyrgyz.

Programs for children and youth, entertainment and education should account for up to 30% of programming.
KTRK’s education programs for children are made by Kerecheku studio and Barudaru fm studio. The former makes programs for children’s education channel Barasutan in line with the increasing role of digitalization in social security. The latter produces shows for children listening to KTRK’s radio programs.
Entertainment for youth audiences includes music channels on TV and the Mitsu Kuiyaru FM show on the radio. KTRK channels also broadcast shows by the Programs for Youth studio.
The total volume of children and youth programming together with entertainment and education shows comes to an average of 36% of self-produced programs across KTRK’s seven TV and radio channels,

At least 70% of content must be made in Kyrgyzstan; foreign content must not exceed 30%
The foreign content of KTRK’s TV and radio channels is made up of animation, movies, and music shows; it constitutes less than 20% of total volume. The remainder is made in Kyrgyzstan and includes domestic movies, and shows made in domestic studios. As a result this law was fully complied with in 2014.

Transmitting public notices from state institutions
Under the “Kyrgyz Public Television and Radio Corporation” law, the corporation is required to transmit public notices from state institutions or regional government bodies, and report on their activities.

KTRK’s history

KTRK began in 1931 when Kyrgyz radio was official inaugurated on January 20, 1931. On that day in Frunze, now Bishkek, a broadcast facility with 25km of cables and a communication network for subscribers went into operation. It linked 300 cabled broadcast receiving sets. The construction of these sets began in 1930 in Frunze, and was completed and ready for operations in 1931.

Popular TV programs on the KTRK channels:
‐News (in Kyrgyz and Russian)
‐”Aputa Ayagui”, a weekly round-up show
‐Talk show “Oi Orudo”
‐”Manasu Tanu”
‐”Formula for Success”
‐”KTRK Kerubeni”
‐”Diru Bayan”, a program about international music and sports
‐TV drama serials

More Diverse Themes and Genres
This is a list of the most prominent events and popular TV shows in 2014 on Public Channel #1.
‐The 22nd Olympic Winter Games at Sochi. This was broadcast over February and March 2014. KTRK was granted a special license to show the Olympics in Kyrgyzstan.
Season 3 of Turkish serial drama “The Magnificent Century.” This financial year saw the continuation of popular Turkish-made serial drama “The Magnificent Century,” dubbed into Kyrgyz. This was shown on Public Channel #1.
The hosting and broadcast of the international “World Nomad Games” held in Issyk-Kul, Cholpon-Ata City in September 2014.
-The Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea, and broadcast over September and October 2014.
Long-distance daily satellite broadcast from the southern KTRK studio in Osh city. In August 2014 the studio was opened in Osh city, and as part of the daily news segment, it reports directly on news events in southern Kyrgyzstan.

TV programs bought from other countries
Program regulations: under Kyrgyz Republic laws KTRK can broadcast foreign television, as long as they remain under 30% of all total programming. KTRK is free to decide scheduling, regulation, and conditions of foreign-made TV shows.
The audiovisual content received by KTRK is examined on artistic and technical merit by KTRK’s artistic committee. This group was established to decide whether a work is suitable for broadcast. A member of the committee felt that the work of a certain foreign creator would have a negative effect on interracial relationships within Kyrgyzstan; KTRK decided not to broadcast his work. In addition, it was pointed out that much of the work provided is filled with violence and is unsuitable for airing on a public television channel.
KTRK owns 60% of joint-venture firm “Channel One, Kyrgyzstan PLC”, and is its founder. It holds investment rights to 60% of the private company “Channel One, World Net PLC”, with 40% owned by Russian investors.
A contract was formed on March 28, 1996 between the Kyrgyz and Russian governments regarding the broadcasting of Russian TV and radio programs within Kyrgyzstan.
All foreign programs are bought under a signed memorandum and according to contract. This is regulated by Kyrgyz laws.

KTRK’s Foreign Partners
– BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation): two TV shows and radio news programs, broadcast daily
– Radio Azattyk (Kyrgyz-language broadcasts from Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe):two TV shows and radio news programs, broadcast daily
– Sāzmāne Sedā va Simaye Jomhūrīye Eslāmīye Īrān, the state-run TV and radio station of Iran
– CNR (Chinese National Radio): daily broadcast of radio music show
– Afghanistan Radio & Television (memo under discussion)
– UNICEF UN: cooperation over content interaction
– Peace Corps, USA: broadcasting of emergency reports
– PROON (UNDP): broadcast content on KTRK
– Internews Network in Kyrgyzstan: development support and assistance with domestic resources
– EBU (European Broadcasting Union): provides content for KTRK channels
– MNB (Mongol National Television): airs arthouse films
– CCTV, in Russian (China Central Television, international channel): news programs
– Arirang TV (South Korean international TV and radio broadcast service): memo being written
– TRT Avaz (Türkiye Radyo Televizyon Kurum, Turkish TV and radio station): training

The Media’s Funding Sources

Most television broadcasters are funded by government subsidies and the sale of commercial airtime. However, some channels are funded by sponsors, donors, or volunteer donations. Others survive by selling television content or by receiving additional funding from SMS services. Nevertheless, the main income sources for most TV stations are advertising (69%), and government subsidies (19%).

Funds provided to the corporation from the national budget
In 2014 KTRK received 400.2 million som of capital from the national budget. As an organization, its funding falls under the social sector of the national budget, and the government supports the corporation’s activities.
Under Kyrgyz Republic budget laws, the provision of capital from the budget must be used by KTRK to provide television and radio programming, and to create movies for Kyrgyz citizens.
This money is used to cover the expense of the following services:
– Broadcast services
– Technical services
– Salaries of production staff
– Payments to social security
– Travel expenses
– Services related to providing KTF content

Government funding accounted for 53% of KTRK’s total budget in the fiscal year 2014:
Government funds 400.2 million som
Corporation’s income (advertising, sale of broadcast slots, technical equipment rental)
‐ KTRK ‐45.9 million som
‐ RRTZ ‐16.9 million som
‐ KTF ‐5 million som
Corporation’s total budget 615.1 million som (FY2015)

KTRK expenses in 2014 (Unit: 1,000 som)
TV & Radio broadcast services 174,307
Other expenses 737
Rental costs 1,139
Maintenance and repair of OS 3,286
Travel expenses 6,318
OS depreciation 24,498
Other taxes 3,930
Purchase of major equipment 45,303
Purchase of spare parts 24,940
Communal charges and communication costs 15,938
Security services 6,116
Purchase of other services 29,289
Donations to social funds 30,707
Wages 187,307

2013-2015 Activities of the Development Strategy Implementation Committee
KTRK’s development strategy has 69 actions, or subcategories grouped under 22 plan categories. When the 2013-2014 Mid-term Report was written, 35 of those subcategories had been completed and eight were nearing completion.

63% of strategic plan categories completed as of March 1, 2015

Remaining Subcategories
No. of
Percentage of
a) Nearing completion 8 12%
b) In progress, or partly underway (at least 50% complete) 10 14%
c) Not yet reached implementation date 2 3%
d) Unable to begin, postponed, canceled, or altered 14 20%

Issues facing technical modernization, preparations for the move to digital broadcast, and degree of attainment
The Kyrgyz Republic’s move to digital TV and radio is directly linked to the safety and security of the nation’s communications, and to meeting the people’s need for information access. Digital broadcasts covers not only television broadcasts but all areas of communication. TV is a key source of information that provides domestic news, but also shapes the national culture. The general global trend is for viewers to turn, slowly but surely, towards interactive media and the internet. Yet because Kyrgyzstan still does not have a fully developed internet infrastructure, TV and radio will be highly necessary for some time to come. The move to digital radio broadcasts is a technical issue, but it is also a high-level social, cultural, economic, and political issue.
The digital broadcast changeover has been positioned as a national priority project in the 2013- 2017 Stable Development Strategy. The Kyrgyz Republic parliament must solve the vital problem of providing digital broadcasts across the country and for all citizens by 2017. Introducing a digital TV and radio broadcast system will allow the television broadcast network to function as a modern, stable element. It will have the potential to develop independently under market forces. It’s more vital than ever that television also becomes a satisfactory source of information for Kyrgyz residents.
State institutions all over the world are helping solve the question of digitalization. The biggest and most important issue is to maintain – at the very least – the current balance of information reception. Ideally it will also reduce the ‘digital gap’, the information inequality between central and distant regions, cities and remote communities. Digitalization is also an international requirement of the digital broadcast plan (Plan: Geneva 06) as signed by Kyrgyzstan.
New TV sets or digital receivers will be provided for free by the government to families who cannot afford them.

Between January and March 2014 engineers from NHK and experts from SONY worked on a joint project. As a result the equipment and parts provided by JICA in 2006 as technical support were exchanged for three video editing machines and 25 VCRs in the production studio. The cost of this support was 10.976 million som.

KTRK’s future plans: Situation and plans for the move to digital broadcasting
Analog and digital broadcasting are both provided across most of Kyrgyzstan. There are no current plans to modernize the studios, the transfer facility HD/SD formats, or broadcast international activities in foreign markets.

Relationship with Japan

Although there is no concrete relationship between KTRK and Japanese television stations, it does receive contact or support from the following organizations:
‐ The Japanese embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic
‐ JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency)
‐ JAMCO (Japan Media Communication Center)
‐ KRJC (Japan Center for Human Development in the Kyrgyz Republic)
The Japanese political system means that KTRK has yet to have any direct contact with Japan’s television channels. This is understandable since broadcasting cooperation is still limited to government level. However, KTRK has a rich history of cooperation with Japan. Below is a dated chart of the technical and cultural cooperation between KTRK and Japan since the corporation’s early days.
The Kyrgyz Public Television and Radio Corporation is deeply grateful to the Japanese people and its government for many years of enormous support and assistance. We hope to continue this fruitful relationship, and to develop new ties with Japanese television stations.

Cooperation with Japan

Period Technical Cooperation
1 1993-1995 Study of Kyrgyz TV& radio technology begins (JICA)
2 1995 Final plan confirmed: provide 21 million US dollars in order to introduce new technology to Kyrgyz TV & radio (JICA)
3 2005-2006 KTRK receives 7 million US dollars’ worth of technical support (Japanese government through JICA)
4 2012 Study into technical support provided to the corporation in 2006 (NHK, via JICA)
5 2013-2014 Under the terms of a 2012 contract, and as part of the plan for continued support after the 2006 technical aid, 800,000 US dollars’ worth of parts and equipment purchased (JICA)
6 2014 A delegation was sent to check the status of the equipment provided by the Japanese government to KTRK. It was led by the head of JICA’s Tokyo HQ’s East & Central Asia Affairs.
7 2014 A group of 15 visited to check on the aid provided to KTRK by the Japanese government (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japanese embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic, JICA)
8 Present Project fully implemented, ending on a successful note
Period Cultural Cooperation
1 2012 Established contract to show arthouse movie “Yuzuriha” on television (JICA, the Japan Foundation) NB: The movie was shown again, due to viewer demand)
2 2013 At the request of the Japanese embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic, documentary movie “Yabusame” was shown on a KTRK channel. It was translated and dubbed in the KTRK studio.
3 2013-2014 The Japanese embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic worked with KTRK to broadcast information shows on Japan that were made by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This video footage was translated and dubbed in the KTRK studio.
4 2013-2014 KTRK’s international division planned a special program which featured the Japanese ambassadors (present/former) to the Kyrgyz Republic. It was called “The Future of Kyrgyz and Japanese Cooperation,” and was shown more than once.
5 2014 Signed a content purchase contract with JAMCO. Animation later supplied to the company was translated from Japanese to Russian and Kyrgyz by the Bishkek Humanities University.
Period Results
1 2011 As part of JICA’s “Documentary Production” project, a member of KTRK’s staff was trained in Japan.
2 2012 A member of KTRK’s staff trained in Japan as part of JICA’s cultural program for the media.
Period Consultation
2011-2015 JICA arranged for a key volunteer to spend six months of each year working as a consultant to KTRK’s director.
Additional comments Events
KTRK has an excellent tradition of broadcasting sporting or cultural events at least once a year ‐Japan cultural week (Japanese embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic)
‐Japanese movie festival (Japanese embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic)
‐Walking marathon (organized by JICA volunteers)
‐Japanese opera, sumo, iaido, kendo (Japanese embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic)
Relationship with Japan KTRK’s international division has a member of staff who handles correspondence with Japan. As a Japanese speaker, this person has visited Japan on a JICA training scheme, and visited a major, famous Japanese media group, and is relatively familiar with Japan’s media market.

As the above demonstrates, the contract between KTRK and JICA means that for five years a small number of Japanese specialists has worked with the corporation. They have stayed for a few days, or for up to six months. Their work has given the corporation a real understanding of the important duties of a public broadcaster. Despite differences in thinking and culture, there was much to learn from our Japanese guests. KTRK’s staff learned how to approach their jobs, and what kind of programming viewers should watch. KTRK channels are prepared to broadcast news, drama serials, anime, and music videos created by Japanese media.


The data realized through this research leads us to the following conclusions:
  • Kyrgyzstan is home to about 30 broadcast signal operators. It has four using satellite broadcasting, two using cable broadcasting, and seven IPTV operators.
  • State-run TV channels KTRK and ELTR cover the largest area (98%).
  • The most widely viewed channels in Kyrgyzstan are KTRK, ORT, and ELTR.
  • The largest geographical coverage by a single TV channel is run by the state. Local commercial channels do not cover every region.
  • The majority of the audience can receive analog broadcasts.
  • The most popular languages for TV broadcasts are Russian and Kyrgyz.
  • Commercial channels are less likely to use production studio works.
  • The TV channels surveyed were in need of equipment and staff
  • The main source of income for the majority of TV channels (18 of 25) is commercials.
  • Of the six researched channels, the most broadcast genre in terms of time is entertainment.
  • Programs on socially significant topics such as culture, education, health, ecology made up between 3.7% to 12.6% of the total, depending on the channel.
  • The program market for production studios is growing slowly.
  • 70-80% of programs made by production studio are for local clients.
  • Local production companies largely make commercials for foreign clients.
  • The biggest advantage to switching to digital broadcasts is the nationwide development of television in Kyrgyzstan.
The majority of companies surveyed supported the switch to digital. Although they see risks and difficulties, they also see potential for growth.

  7. G. Ibraeva, S. Kulikova: “The History of Development and Modern Media in Kyrgyzstan: results of the research”
  8. K. Mambetaliev: “Freedom from Fear”, Collection of Articles, 2006, Bishkek
  9. Eric Johnson, Martha Olcott, and Robert. Horvitz, “The Media in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan,” Analysis by Internews, for USAID
  10. K. Mambetaliev, J. Bugubaeva: “State power and nongovernmental press in Kyrgyzstan”
  11. K. Mambetaliev: “Kyrgyzstan’s Mass Media in 21st Century”, OCSE collection
  12. “Central Asia for protection of the future. Mass Media in multicultural and multilingual societies”, 2003, Vienna
  13. A. Isaeva: “Development and activities of mass media in Kyrgyzstan”, website of the news and analytics Centre on Research of Socio-Political Processes in Post-Soviet Space). [42]
  14. “Practical application of Kyrgyz legislation on mass media”, a collection of court decisions on cases involving journalists and media in 2003-2006
  15. MSN Newspaper, July 17, 2007. The KTRK owns subsidiary organizations in each state – regional television and radio stations
  16. MGTRK World is the Kyrgyzstan affiliate of the Commonwealth for Independent States’ international TV channel
  17. M. Khamidov: “Print Media in Kyrgyzstan”, Tashkent conference “Mass Media in Central Asia: today and tomorrow”, Tashkent, 2000
  18. Alisher Olim: “US and Russia. Media war in Kyrgyzstan”, November 6, 2007
  19. K. Mambetaliev: “Western projects on mass media support in Kyrgyzstan”, the report presented at “Freedom of speech in Central Asia”, Amsterdam, December 12, 2003
  20. KTRK 2014 Annual Report

*Links are for posted items. It is possible that some items are not currently available or are being edited.

A. Asanbekova

International Division, KTRK, Kyrgyz Public Television and Radio Corporation

Past Symposiums

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