Media of Kazakhstan

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Media in Kazakhstan include television and radio, newspapers and the internet. Despite the freedom of the press being an established part of Kazakhstan's constitution, privately owned and opposition media have been subject to steadily increasing harassment and censorship. In 2004 the International Federation of Journalists identified a "growing pattern" of intimidation of the media, and in 2012 several opposition media outlets were ordered to be shut down on charges of promoting "extremism".

All media are required to register with the Ministry of Culture, Information and Sports, with the exceptioncitation needed of websites.

Newspapers

A wide range of publications, mostlycitation needed supportive of the government, are available. The authorities operates one of the two national Russian-language newspapers and the only regular national Kazakh language newspaper. There werecitation needed 990 privately owned newspapers and 418 privately owned magazines. Those supportive of the opposition face harassment and lawsuits.

Online news websites include:

Intimidation and government-ordered closures

Respublika is possibly the main opposition publication . (A number of its issues were printed as, Golos Respubliki.)

Increasingly, owners of printing presses refused to print the publication, after a failed attempt by a government representative to buy a controlling stake in Respublika in November 2001.1 (One owner found a human skull placed on his doorstep.1)

A mid-March 2002 court order to stop printing for three months, was evaded by printing under other titles, such as Not That Respublika.1

On another occasion, a decapitated dog was hung from Respublika building with a screwdriver sticking into its side and a note reading "there will be no next time"2 the dog's head was left outside Irina Petrushova's home.3 Three days later, the newspaper's offices were firebombed and burned to the ground.4 In July, Petrushova was given an eighteen-month jail sentence on tax charges, but served no time after a judge ruled that the case fell under an amnesty.5 (Petrushova eventually left the country for Russia, where she continued to publish via the Internet, living apart from her family for their safety.2 In recognition of her work, she was awarded a 2002 International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a US-based NGO.4)

In May 2005 the Kazakh Information Ministry ordered the paper to be closed, accusing it of inciting ethnic hatred by publishing an interview with a Russian politician who made derogatory remarks about ethnic Kazakhstanis. The paper's deputy editor Galina Dyrdina claimed the closure was politically motivated, and vowed to appeal.6 The paper continued to be published under a variety of titles.7

In November 2012, before the anniversary of the Mangystau riots, Kazakh authorities raided and searched Respublika's office and again suspended its publication while a verdict on criminal charges was still pending.89 Respublika was again ordered closed, "along with seven sister titles and 23 news websites, plus another opposition newspaper and a satellite TV station [...] for ‘propagating extremism’, inciting unrest and urging the overthrow of the government."10 Reporters Without Borders described this as a "pretext" and said it would be the end of pluralism in Kazakhstan.10

A magazine and two other newspapers

Other media experienced difficulties during the November 2012 case against media sources in Kazakhstan; Altyn Tamyr, Tortinshi Bilik and DAT (with its website—dat.kz—inaccessible as of December 2012).

International reaction to assaults on journalists

In 2012 the International Press Institute called for the government to investigate an assault on Ularbek Baitailaq—a contributor to opposition media DAT and Tortinshi Bilik, and archivist of the Kazakh National Archive).11 The Committee to Protect Journalists called for investigations into the assault of both Maksim Kartashov and Baitailaq.12

Television

«Kazakhstan» is the State Television Channel of Kazakhstan. Other country-wide television stations are Khabar and Yel Arna. Khabar is owned by the President's daughter, and rarely broadcasts criticism of his policy.

There are 116 private channels, including Channel 31, KTK and Perviy Kanal Evraziya.

Satellite TV in Kazakhstan (with US&EU TV-Channels)

Digital Cable TV (with US&EU TV-Channels)

IP-TV

Radio

The state-owned Kazakh Radio broadcasts in both official languages. A wide number of private radio stations are also available including Europa Pluscitation needed, Russkoye Radio,citation needed Hit FM, Radio Azattyq and Radio Karavan. Similarly to the television market, the President's daughter controls the majority of the sector.

Media websites

The country had 5.4 million internet users in 2011—up13 from 2010. "Twitter, Facebook and YouTube audience share is less than 0.4%",13 according to BBC in 2012.

The censorship of online publications has become routine and arbitrary.

In 2003citation needed the state telecom firm KazakhTelecom was ordered to block access to a dozen websites it said were 'destructive'. The pages either supported the opposition or provided neutral news coverage.

In July, 2009, the government passed amendments to laws oncitation needed the Internet which some critics claimed unduly restrictive. The law made internet content subject to existing laws on expression, such as criminal libel. It also widened the scope of 'banned media content' to cover political matters, such as coverage of the election campaign.14

A broadcasting bill implemented in December 2011 was aimed at improving the content of the national media, and to 'protect' it from external influence. According to the government, the bill would “eliminate low quality content that inflicts psychological or emotional damage on views.” 15

The country had 5.4 million internet users and 362,000 Facebook users as of December 31, 2011.

Lawsuits with governmental plaintiffs and defendants from media

In November 2012, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LiveJournal were cited in a lawsuit filed by Kazakh prosecutors seeking to shutdown opposition media outlets. The prosecutors demanded the websites stop publishing material from Kazakh opposition sources.16

The following month a court in Almaty ruled that a number of opposition media outlets, such as the television channels Stan TV and K+ and newspapers Vzglyad and Respublika, had to close due to their "extremist" views. These were the same outlets who reported on the Mangystau riots in 2011.17

Punishment for defaming a news agency

Increasingly, censorship is imposed by means of civil legal action, such as defamation suits. On 13 June 2005 a court in Almaty ordered former Information Minister Altynbek Sarsenbaev (the opposition leader assassinated in January 2006) to pay 1 million tenges ($7,500) in damages for 'defaming' Khabar news agency. Sarsenbaev was also ordered to publicly retract comments he made in an interview with the opposition newspaper Respublika. He had alleged that Khabar was part of a monopolistic media holding controlled by Dariga Nazarbayev. The case is believed to be in response to his resignation after the 2004 elections. At the time he stated "The election was not fair, honest, or transparent; the authorities showed that from the beginning they didn't want honest elections.

Media-related legal code

Media watchdog groups such as ARTICLE 19 have voiced their concern over the government's moves in the past few years to silence the opposition.18 Recent changes in media-related laws in Kazakhstan appear to target non-governmental media outlets. Criticism of government employes can lead to lawsuits, and news laws against "extremism" have been used to shut down opposition media sources.

According to opposition source Adil Soz the Kazakh legal code is stringent on defamation, allowing even for cases where the defamation is true. "One can seek compensation for true statements damaging his/her reputation – for example, a government official who is of accused of abuse of State funds, can claim compensation even if the statement damaging his/her reputation is true". This also means that an Internet Service Provider could attract liability "by unwittingly providing access to insulting or defamatory information published through the Internet".18

See also

External links

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Wines 2012
  2. ^ a b Fred Hiatt (25 November 2012). "Truth-Tellers in a Time of Terror". The Washington Post.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Rozlana Taukina (11 July 2012). "Police make arrests in firebombing attack on Kazakh newspaper office". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "2002 Awardee: Irina Petrushova". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Editor of independent Kazakh newspaper sentenced to prison, then amnestied, for alleged business violations". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 4 July 2002. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Kazakhstan: country profile. Recent developments.". European commission, external relations. 2005. Retrieved 2006-03-21. 
  7. ^ "Kazakhstan: The News Weekly That Won’t Be Silenced". Eurasianet. 29 March 2011. Archived from the original on 21 September 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Opposition newspapers convicted before court rules on case". Reporters Without Borders. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Al Jazeera English: Kazakh media fights against new restrictions on YouTube
  10. ^ a b Stewart, Will (25 November 2012). "Kazakhstan dictator axes paper critical of Blair's £8million job as adviser". Daily Mail. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Kazakh journalist hospitalised after attack". International Press Institute. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "Two journalists brutally beaten in Kazakh capital". Committee to Protect Journalists. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Kazakhstan country profile
  14. ^ Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Asia
  15. ^ Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Asia
  16. ^ "Kazakhstan sues Google, Twitter and Facebook". Russia Today. November 23, 2012. 
  17. ^ Mukhametrakhimova, Saule (February 28, 2013), "Kazakstan: Free Speech in Danger", Institute for War and Peace Reporting 
  18. ^ a b Kazakhstan: Civil Code Restrictions on Freedom of Expressions, ARTICLE 19, July 2012 







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