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IRIS 2018-5:1/31


Broadcasting Law Adopted

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Andrei Richter

Catholic University in Ružomberok (Slovakia)

On 5 January 2018, President Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan signed the law “On Television and Radio Broadcasting”, the first in the country’s history. The law preserves the current governmental system of licensing and control.

In addition to the current monopoly of state broadcasting, the law envisages the establishment of public television and radio entities, as well as private broadcasters, “to satisfy the informational requirements of the population” (Article 18 paragraph 1). The law formally provides a set of requirements for the state broadcaster, including the possibility of free expression for different “groups of population” (Article 16 paragraph 3). It envisages a must-carry package for all broadcasting platforms, to be composed as a result of a contest (Article 23).

The law introduces a formal ban on direct foreign TV and radio transmissions, including via satellite and the Internet, without prior permission from the authorities (Article 51) and an outright ban on pornography (Article 15 paragraph 6). The individual reception of satellite TV, the most popular method of watching foreign programmes today, is severely restricted through a system of special “certificates of compatibility” and local rules (Article 26). Collective satellite dish antennas need a licence (Article 27).

The law provides an obligation to offer access to digital TV and radio in all settlements with a population of over 1 000 inhabitants (Article 7 paragraph 8).

It introduces a quota of less than 50 percent airtime for programmes in languages other than Turkmen for all types of broadcasters, as well as less than 25 percent for national broadcasters (understood as available to 90 percent of the population). It includes a demand to provide voiceover in Turkmen for all programmes available for the population, including via satellite platforms (Article 42 paragraphs 2 and 3). There is now also a quota of 50 percent for national products and national music for Turkmen-based channels (Article 44 paragraph 1).

In his public statement on 27 March 2018, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, noted the timeliness of the law, which reflects major shifts in the media sphere, and establishes a legal framework for future private and public service broadcasting.

“The law upholds a number of commitments of Turkmenistan in the field of media freedom,” said the Representative. “Yet, there are several provisions that require improvement to meet international standards on freedom of broadcasting media. These provisions include the independence of the licensing agency and that of the public service broadcaster,” he said. The Representative called on the Turkmen authorities to take measures to support a pluralistic media landscape and freedom of expression.

Закон Республики Туркменистан «O телевидении и радиовещании» RU
  Act of the Republic of Turkmenistan “On Television and Radio Broadcasting”, published on 13 January 2018 by the national news agency      
“Following adoption of broadcasting law in Turkmenistan, OSCE representative Désir presents legal review, calls for improvements to the media situation”. Press statement, 27 March 2018 EN