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Kyrgyzstan to ban foreign TV for elections

23 september 2011, 15:41
Kyrgyzstani old woman at the entrance of voting station in Bishkek. ©RIA Novosti
Kyrgyzstani old woman at the entrance of voting station in Bishkek. ©RIA Novosti
Kyrgyzstan will ban all foreign news channels from the weekend for the duration of its presidential election campaign to limit "foreign involvement" in the polls, sources said Friday, AFP reports.

The ban affects all foreign news broadcasters -- including the best-known Western names -- but seems aimed mainly as pro-Kremlin Russian channels that have troubled the authorities in the past.

It follows a law passed in June and put forward by the ruling party Ata Meken. The implementation of the ban coincides with the start of the presidential election campaign on Sunday.

"From the beginning of the election campaign, Russian First Channel, Rossiya TV, CNN, and BBC will disappear from our channel line-up," Vasily Goncharov, the head of the cable TV company Ala-TV, told AFP .

The parliament adopted the new law after the Russian NTV channel broadcast a sex video, featuring a man resembling leading Ata Meken politician Omurbek Tekebayev ahead of the October 2010 general elections.

"It's a question of national security," Ravshan Zhhebekov, a member of parliament for Ata Meken (Fatherland), told AFP.

Media rights groups have criticised the law for limiting public access to information in this ex-Soviet nation of 5.3 million people. The election campaign is due to start on Sunday for the October 30 elections.

The law bans TV news channels from involvement in the political campaign, but the cable companies in the impoverished nation said they don't have the money, ability, or expertise to evaluate all TV broadcasts.

"By law, we must record all programmes of foreign TV channels, filter through campaigning for any of the candidates, remove such fragments and then release the recorded programmes, but we just do not have such equipment,"

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