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Television and radio companies, operating in the Republic of Kazakhstan

List of TV and Radio stations (March 2003)

First private stations in Kazakhstan appeared in 1990 (these are KTK in Almaty, “Ether” in new capital of Kazakhstan Astana (back then the city was called Tselinograd), RIKA-TV in Aktyubinsk). Until 1996 local non-state television and radio stations appeared in every large city of Kazakhstan.

Private electronic mass media reached the biggest distribution in December of 1996, when there were 50 television and 30 radio stations in Kazakhstan.

Not all stations have strong professional level and high-quality equipment. Broadcasting companies in regions often work on equipment of S-VHS format. It is necessary to note that that thanks to efforts of Internews in Kazakhstan, local stations began producing local news, which differed in terms of content and character of newscasts of state stations.  In 1995 Internews provided shooting and editing S-VHS sets of equipment to six most potential stations at the time. For the first four years of its activity representative office of Internews in Kazakhstan conducted more than forty training seminars in the country, where more than seven hundred experts from broadcasting companies of Central Asian countries were trained.

As time goes by creative level and technical equipment of private television and radio companies change.

But in the recent years development in an independent broadcasting has slowed down naturally.

Steady growth of popularity of private stations provoked return reaction from authorities and state channels. Considering swift growth of number of non-state electronic mass media, as well as growing demand in this connection on television and radio frequency resource, government of the Republic of Kazakhstan came to the conclusion of necessity of regulating this process.  On December 11, 1996 decree # 1523 “About formation of commission on conduction of contest-auction on the right to use radio frequency spectrum”.

One of the main goals of the contest was that channels, which are willing to broadcast on the air, pay to the state for broadcasting license and replenish the state budget this way.  One more basing for conduction of tender became bringing technical quality of broadcasting of private stations to accordance with state standards.

However amounts for the right to broadcast on the air turned out to be too high for many stations (on the average they would need to pay for broadcasting license throughout three years from 80 to 20 thousand US dollars depending on capacity of supposed transmitter).

Part of stations was forced to close down as a result of high prices for broadcasting license (according to data of Internews, in the beginning of 1997 about 20 private stations closed down). Among those were also stations, which produced programs that were critical towards authorities (“TV-M” and “Totem”). Later these stations tried to sue the government (point of claims – damage, inflicted to television and radio stations in result of tender for frequencies, as well as forced suspension of work), however this effort was not successful.

In 1997-1998 some more tenders for right to use television and radio channels were conducted.

In the first half of 1999, despite of promises of the Ministry of culture, information and public consent, no tenders were conducted.

In 1998 monopolization of informational space took place in Kazakhstan. Biggest electronic mass media became property of private individuals, close to presidential circle.  The daughter of the president of the Republic of Kazakhstan Dariga Nazarbayeva controls at least four television and three radio broadcasting networks.  She is the owner and the head of the biggest national television agency “Habar”, which has very strange status: on one hand, it is closed joint-stock company, on the other hand, they say that 100 % of its stocks belong to the state organization (State committee of state property).

Unfortunately, issue about mass media owners in Kazakhstan remains to be top secret information. There is paradoxical situation, when on one hand mass media are formally independent (meaning non-state, private mass media), on the other hand, state officials being in position of the stock-holders of the biggest television and radio networks, have close financial and administrative connections with mass media, dictate journalists how to cover state policy, and stop independent efforts to promulgate materials with critical content.

Beginning from 1997 almost all channels of Russian federation disappeared from Kazakhstan’s ether (now broadcasting of programs of Russian channels may be viewed on cable television). The company ORT-Kazakhstan was created at the end of 1997, which received right to cut out Russian advertisement from ORT programs on Kazakhstan’s territory and sell advertising time independently.

Today private national television networks are virtually formed (“ORT – Kazakhstan”, “Habar”, NTK and KTK), whose activity as it is noticed is controlled by the authorities, which in majority of cases are their owners as well to this or that degree. In January 1998 television company NTK received right without any tender to broadcast free of charge in 18 cities of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Two more Almaty companies received the same privileges: television company KTK and radio NS. Commission on conduction of contests allocated metric diapason in some cities to these television companies, which contradicts decrees of the Cabinet of Ministers and previous decisions of the commission itself, assigning frequencies of metric diapason only for state companies.

According to the data of Internews, on May 1 1999 more than 30 television companies and more than 20 radio stations were broadcasting in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Some of them were broadcasting in regions, despite of severe, illegal and power methods of competition on the part of private national networks, still preserve viability.

Firm staffs of regional stations, such as “Otyrar” from Shymkent, RIKA-TV and “Radio-Rifma” from Aktyubinsk, “Alau” from Kostanai, TVK-6 from Semipalatinsk and others deserve the warmest words…  Abilities of private independent broadcasting companies not only to survive, but also to gradually move forward, develop and gain more popularity from an audience, leave hopes that the most difficult times for independent press in Kazakhstan will stay behind…

 

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