In the run-up to the presidential election due October 30 Kyrgyzstan's cable television companies and the state enterprise Kyrgyztelecom as of September 25 will suspend the retransmission of foreign channels, including Russia's Channel 1 and RTR, the firms' representatives told a news conference this week. Russian television channels will be available again after the elections, Itar-Tass reported.
On September 25 Kyrgyzstan will start a presidential election campaign. The highest post is to be contested, according to the latest sources, by 25 rivals. According to local laws, foreign media have no right to participate in this process.
"There are several reasons why we had to make that decision," said the representative of the cable company, Al-TV Vasily Goncharov. "By the law, we must pre-record all programs of foreign TV channels, filter away all campaigning for any candidate, remove such fragments and then release the programs, but we just do not have such equipment." In addition, the company has no professionals who "can keep track of the content."
"Above all, under contracts with foreign channels, we have no right to make changes to their programs," said Goncharov.
Meanwhile, the suspension of re-transmission of foreign channels is fraught with the risk of economic sanctions against Kyrgyz cable companies.
As the representative of the Association of Kyrgyzstan's Communication Operators, Dzhyrgalbek Kasimov said, cable television companies have already asked the Constitutional Chamber to recognize illegal the situation that violates the people's right to free access to information. Several days ago a similar appeal was also sent to the CEC, which redirected it to the parliament. However, there has been no answer from the legislators to this request to this day, he said.
Experts say the people of Kyrgyzstan throughout the election campaign period will be able to watch foreign TV channels via satellite television and on the Internet, and the authorities have no technical options to deprive them of this opportunity.