Kyrgyz Authorities to Cut Uzbek Language Programs
Uzbek language TV channels in south Kyrgyzstan will be limited in air time from August 15 if they do not meet language requirement to produce more than half of their programs in the state Kyrgyz language, Mayor’s office in southern Osh city has announced. The channels say language requirement is impossible to meet due to lack of video materials in the Kyrgyz language and expensive original production.
Osh TV and Mezon-TV Kyrgyz channels that air primarily in Uzbek have been continuously accused of violating legislation on state language and the Law on radio and television which requires TV channels to have more than half of their programs in the Kyrgyz language.
Ethnic Uzbeks constitute 14 percent of the five million population and live primarily in the south. Russian is also a widely spoken language.
Khaliljan Khudaiberdiev, Director of the Osh TV company said to Ferghana.ru that there are no enough video materials, such as films, music clips, documentaries or television series in the Kyrgyz language to meet the state requirement.
“We would comply with the law if we could. Right now we do not have resources to produce original programs in the Kyrgyz language or translate Uzbek programs to Kyrgyz,” Khudaiberdiev said.
“Nowadays even big TV companies cannot afford that. We cannot survive [under such legislation] without help from the government,” he added.
All the video materials in the Kyrgyz language produced during the Soviet times are owned by the Kyrgyz National TV and Radio Corporation. The Uzbek-language TV channels have sent numerous appeals to the government demanding change over the state TV monopoly. However some observers say, even state television is experiencing difficulties in translating materials to the Kyrgyz language.
Andrew Tesoriere, head of OSCE center in Bishkek voiced concerns over language-based restrictions on the recent press conference in Osh. He said that most of the human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan say the state legislation abridges freedom of expression in the country.
Observers note that Kyrgyz authorities are unsuccessfully trying to keep linguistic balance and not let minority languages to supersede, especially in the south where the ethnic Uzbek population is growing, while many ethnic Kyrgyz leave permanently for Russia. However, with sizable Uzbek and Russian speaking population the state should pursue much complex policies rather than simply abridging minority language media to preserve the state language.