Media Sustainability Index 2014
"At Media Kurultaye in 2013, Sholpan Zhaksybayeva, executive director of the National Association of Broadcasters of Kazakhstan, described key disadvantages for consumers within the new Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting. He concluded that it violates constitutional guarantees on free access to information and offers a limited selection as a result of monopolies. Summing up the government’s recent policies in the sphere of electronic media regulation as first and foremost a form of “aggressive ideology,” Zhaksybayeva said, “They force television companies out by limiting frequencies and attacking private businesses in the television field, instituting the encoding of free broadcast signals, mandating sky-high prices for small digital attachments, and requiring registration of foreign television channels. Moreover, the legislation to protect children from harmful information imposes strict guidelines on broadcasting content and punishes broadcasters and operators for any proven violations. It seems as if all of these policies have been specifically thought up in order to discourage the population from traditional television viewing and, as a result, encourage them to turn to the Internet for information.” (page 233)
"As usual, the panelists said, the voting on the competitors for the radio frequency channels was predetermined by pro-government forces, and they do not believe that regional radio and television channels face a fair playing field for licensure. Zhaksybayeva noted also that the state media’s privileged position in the free-of-charge OTAU television package strengthens the system of state dominance in Kazakh media. The political influences over the licensing process, and other political regulations in the media market, create unequal conditions for entry into the market for media companies, compared with other services. Kazakhstan has no separate laws, or legal norms or mechanisms, to regulate the media’s economic development. Therefore, there areno tax incentives to encourage their development, and the taxation of the media is indistinguishable from tax laws for businesses in other areas of the economy. In fact, tax audits are often used as a tool to penalize the independent media, with the aim of paralyzing their activity during a tax inspection."
"Sergey Vlasenko, a lawyer for the National Association of Broadcasters of Kazakhstan, confirmed, “Private media produce their own news, and in many instances this news surpasses the national channels in terms of professional news content—even though there is limited journalistic potential and limited technical and financial opportunities.” (page 241)
"Kazakhstan’s media community includes trade associations that represent the interests of media owners and managers and provide member services. One such association is the National Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters of Kazakhstan (NAT)—a professional and social union of television and radio broadcasters of Kazakhstan that lobbies for the creation of prosperous and equal conditions for all participants in the market of television and radio broadcasting in Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstan Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters, not to be confused with NAT, unites television and radio broadcasting companies of Kazakhstan and represents the interests of the industry in its interrelationships with legislation, elected officials, and Kazakh society at large." (page 245)
"In an increasingly repressive Internet environment, the panelists also expressed dismay over the acquisition of the cable company Digital by Kazakhtelkom. The official version of the acquisition is that the cable operator did not have the means to purchase digital equipment, and therefore the cable operator was “for sale.” However, Zhaksybayeva believes that the acquisition is an example of the government’s unprecedented bid to strengthen its position and exert influence in the cable industry. According to Zhaksybayeva, Kazteleradio—100 percent owned by the government—is continuing the process of broadcast digitalization. This is occurring through a transfer of the signals under the guidance of one technical operator. Television channels of independent operators that have their own frequency and receiving equipment are upgrading to digital (i.e., the digitalization of dependent content of producers). Zhaksybayeva elaborated on this: “We have criticized this state of affairs a very great deal, appeared before senators and members of the Madjlis, and have proposed the alternatives of including television channels by taking frequencies from the shareholders of Kazteleradio, or including television channels in the multiplexes on a perpetual basis. Or for the state to pay compensation for the value of the frequencies being taken from television channels. No one paid any heed to our proposals, and the bureaucrats got off with the minimum. ‘We’ll let you into the multiplex for nothing, but you’ll have to pay to stay there.’ But the problem has not gone away, and come 2015 it will have gotten more acute, because there is an increasing understanding of what has happened.”
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