In the near future, Kyrgyzstan will be prepared to play the role of becoming the first country in Central Asia without state media.
Go wherever you want
The state press of Kyrgyzstan could hardly be called the favorite child of the former power structures. Rather, it was treated as service personnel, who must work out their official status on a daily basis ... Moreover, this did not bring any special money or other material and other benefits to pro-government correspondents working in Bishkek or on the periphery. Their monthly salary per month ranges from 30 to 100 dollars. The issuance of municipal housing remained in the distant Soviet times. Sometimes without holidays and weekends, the “parquet” press pulls hundreds of thousands of kilometers in pursuit of government VIPs.
Technical state support of the state press also left much to be desired. A typewriter is the number one production tool in many editorial offices. In connection with this, independent media outlets are often established in state publications, thanks to which publications have the opportunity to attract international grant assistance for the purchase of modern office equipment. For example, thanks to foreign aid, rather than the state budget, the national television and radio company modernized its production base.
At the first National Media Forum after the March “revolution”, which oversees media issues in the “post-revolutionary” cabinet of ministers, the acting minister. Deputy Prime Minister Adakhan Madumarov said, addressing the editors and staff of the official press: “Write what you want - swim wherever you want.”
This statement has become a landmark for the Kyrgyz media. Himself in the past journalist, and. about. the vice-premier stated unequivocally that in the near future there will be no state-owned media in Kyrgyzstan. Madumarov further summarized: “Instead of them, it is enough to have one government publication in the form of a bulletin, the rest of the press should be privatized. Let him be absolutely free, he writes that he considers it necessary and makes his own living. ” According to him, under the previous government, most official publications did not reflect the real situation in the country, expressing exclusively the interests of high-ranking state officials. “The news of the state television channel in one broadcast gave 15 stories about Askar Akayev, 13 - about his spouse and the weather forecast,” Madumarov says. “Opposition publications, in turn, have repeatedly demonstrated how they managed to revive literally from the ashes after the pressure of the state machine.” The Cabinet of Ministers is ready to give free access to the incorporation of government-wide republican publications, which will be able to attract any founders to their ranks. According to another supporter of the idea of “Kyrgyzstan without official media,” Kuban Mambetaliev, the head of the influential public association “Journalists”, the ministries of education and internal affairs have their own newspapers. In a number of regions, tax inspectorates and prosecutors ’offices, who also publish their own publications, act as founders of publications. In all democratic countries, there is no state press for a long time, and we still have editors of republican editions appointed by presidential decree. If we do not carry out reforms, the existing war of state and non-state media, praising individual officials and the president will remain. Of course, as a result of the reform, part of the publications will close, but the strongest will survive and will issue a quality product, says Kuban Mambetaliev, who joined the government commission on denationalizing the media. Opponents of this position believe that, first of all, as a result of the reform, regional publications will be closed. In most regions of Kyrgyzstan today it is difficult to find an ordinary advertiser, and there can be no talk of a wealthy sponsor. However, it is quite possible that the cancellation option is possible for all media with 20% VAT, at least for the first two years. However, the government believes that this can be done for the press, which is not engaged in commercial activities. But there is actually no such thing. Funds should be sought for technical functioning, maintenance and circulation. Under tax laws in Kyrgyzstan, there is no difference between sausage producers and the press. The mechanism of interaction between the authorities and the press in terms of the implementation of the concept of information security of the state and national ideology is also unclear. In addition, state-owned media could not only promote, but also be critical of the activities of state bodies at the level of public control.
As is known, the Ukrainian authorities were the first in the CIS after the Orange Revolution to declare the need to liquidate state-owned media. Igor Sharov, a well-known parliamentary member in the republic, commented on this initiative: “I advise reformers to first analyze the economic indicators of each mass media, study the market, make a forecast as to whether the economic climate will contribute to the development of non-state mass media at the district level, and only then come up with some official initiatives. ” This point of view is very relevant for Kyrgyzstan. According to the head of the Kyrgyzinfo news agency, Turat Akimov, there is no serious marketing approach in the Kyrgyz-language press. As the newspaper goes to the reader, the consumer learns about all the news from television and radio messages.
Privatizers will be found
And yet, it is unlikely that the official press, especially the republican format, will be ignored by local political and business structures. So, in the Kyrgyz Tusu newspaper they are sure that the publication will have new owners without any problems. The topic of the possible privatization of the Kyrgyz State TV and Radio Company requires a separate article. Moreover, the republic is increasingly talking about holding new parliamentary elections already in early 2006. According to the former chief editor of Slova Kyrgyzstan, and now the head of the Vecherny Bishkek newspaper Arkady Gladilov, the acquisition of these publications is very beneficial for those forces who intend to influence the development of the socio-political situation in the country. “At present, almost all of our media outlets have become more influential to the population than any political movement. It seems that someone intentionally wants to deprive the new government of a normal dialogue with the population of the country. As a result, not just the press can be privatized, but the state ideology, ”the editor says. It is possible that such an opinion may seem like an extremely pessimistic forecast. But the realities in Kyrgyzstan are now such that the concept of a new state structure is still being formed. The question also lies at what level the owners of the controlling packages of national-format publications will be interested in producing objective media. There were examples in the republic when all newspaper pages of private publications were devoted to the personalities of their founders or one party.
The lion's share of financial resources in the media business of Kyrgyzstan was and continues to be a grant infusion of international organizations and donor countries. But according to national legislation, these structures will not be able to become owners of controlling stakes in the state press. It is possible that “official” media brands will attract the attention of foreign investors. True, non-state media that do not have a negative image have more advantages in this regard. For example, the Kazakh media holding “Channel 31” recently became the owner of the NBT television company in Bishkek. Now the policy of the channel will be determined by Kazakh managers.
It is not excluded that the radical reform of the official press that has begun urgently, in the first place, will have a negative impact on the coverage of the work of the state authorities themselves. If until this time for budget publications, the materials on the activities of state structures were business number 1, then in the near future, officials will probably have to persuade editors to post official materials. It is possible that the heads of the media and departments will be able to establish partnerships and mutually beneficial relations. This will be the most acceptable option. For example, such information may be published as advertising. But there is also a high probability that local administrations will also begin to issue various official bulletins. Or will be the actual co-founders of non-state publications. In this case, high-ranking officials are given the opportunity, not sharing with the state budget to receive good revenues from an independent press.
As a result, the power-oriented media can be even more than now. But already under a different sign.