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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BISHKEK1790
2006-12-21 02:41:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

KYRGYZ MEDIA: HOW TO UNDERSTAND IT ALL

Tags:   PGOV  PINR  SCUL  PREL  KPAO  KG 
pdf how-to read a cable
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RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO BRUSSELS BE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
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RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BISHKEK 001790 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/PPD, R, PA AND INR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2016
TAGS: PGOV PINR SCUL PREL KPAO KG
SUBJECT: KYRGYZ MEDIA: HOW TO UNDERSTAND IT ALL

REF: A. BISHKEK 1737

B. BISHKEK 1742

C. BISHKEK 1752

D. BISHKEK 1763

BISHKEK 00001790 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARIE L. YOVANOVITCH, REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
.



1. (U) This is the last in a series of cables on the state of
the media in Kyrgyzstan.



2. (C) SUMMARY: Many consider the Kyrgyz media to be the
freest and liveliest in Central Asia, and there is no doubt
that this is true. There are many options for news coverage
and opinion, especially in the print media and on the
Internet. This wide range of choices, however, is no
guarantee of access to unbiased information. As in many
parts of the former Soviet Union, most media outlets are
controlled by the government or aligned with political
factions. President Bakiyev, Prime Minister Kulov, and
opposition politicians all have their champions in the media.
Russian influence in the media is pervasive, whether through
re-broadcasting of Russian television, or reliance on Russian
wire services and Russian-controlled web sites. Among the
hundreds of media instruments, merely a handful comes close
to producing balanced and unbiased news. In Bishkek and
other major cities throughout Kyrgyzstan, citizens may choose
their sources of news and information based on their
political beliefs and whom they support, but as ownership and
management of media firms constantly change according to
shifts in the political tides, knowing which news source to
believe becomes quite challenging. END SUMMARY.

HOME-GROWN INFLUENCE


--------------------------





3. (C) With the majority of Kyrgyzstan's news agencies
controlled by the government or political factions, Kyrgyz
politicians well understand that support from one or several
media outlets is critical to their business and political
success. While political parties may not be able to afford a
TV station, owning a newspaper is a more affordable option
for most politicians and businessmen. Least expensive but
requiring an understanding and progressive attitude about the
Internet, blogs and forums are the fastest and easiest way to
reach the educated youth and Kyrgyz intelligentsia. By
controlling the only nationwide television and radio station
(KTR), several newspapers, and a number of news websites,
President Bakiyev wields the most influence and power
throughout the media sector. Although the opposition will
continue to demand that Bakiyev relinquish authority over
KTR, the president will likely continue to guard control over
the media mammoth.

RUSSIAN PRESS: SHAPING KYRGYZ VIEWS


--------------------------





4. (C) Wide-spread availability, cultural familiarity, and
the absence of language barriers are all factors that lead
Kyrgyz journalists to pluck news reports directly from the
Russian press. Although occasionally using Russian press for

coverage of major stories coming out of Kyrgyzstan, the
Kyrgyz press rely most heavily on Russian sources for their
coverage of international news. Thus, much of the Kyrgyz
public see the world through "Russified" glasses, cultivating
opinions of world events and politics parallel to those of
the Kremlin. This results in some negative press coverage of
the perceived "meddling" of USG democracy programs, of
suspicions regarding the "color revolutions" in Ukraine and
Georgia, and of the "dangers" associated with the presence of
a U.S. airbase.

WHAT DO YOU READ AND WHY?


--------------------------




BISHKEK 00001790 002.2 OF 002




5. (C) During the November 2 demonstrations, TV viewers were
offered two distinct versions in reporting of the events.
Those who watched government-owned KTR would have thought
that the demonstrators took to the streets to show support
for President Bakiyev. In contrast, viewers of the
pro-opposition channel NTS saw demonstrators demanding the
resignation of Bakiyev and Kulov without ever seeing the
pro-government demonstrations. Kyrgyzstan's citizens are
faced with an ever-evolving decision to choose the right
media source that, although may not be balanced and unbiased,
will at least spin the news at an angle that coincides with
their political and social principles. Within the last year,
numerous media outlets have changed hands, and in turn,
shifted their political leanings. Understanding what is
going on in Kyrgyzstan entails more than picking up the
latest paper or skimming a Kyrgyz news site on the web. The
average Kyrgyz citizen probably does not delve into the
subtext and accepts what is being reported as the truth. It
may be vital for the reader, listener or viewer to know the
political motives of their news source, which are closely
tied to their ownership and financing, in order to peel away
the slanted rhetoric to get to the truth. Thus, as is true
of much of Kyrgyz politics and society, the truth often rests
several layers below the surface.

WHAT WE'RE DOING


--------------------------





6. (C) The USG is actively involved in programs to support
independent media in Kyrgyzstan, and to increase Western
content and unbiased analysis in the coverage mix. For
example, the USG (using funds from DRL) provided the funds to
launch an independent printing press in Bishkek. USAID,
through its program with Internews, has focused on training
for journalists, but is also prepared to help if and when the
government moves forward on its promises to transform KTR
into an independent public entity. We have also encouraged
our European colleagues to help to find a way to bring
Euronews (in Russian) to NTS television, to provide some
Western content to television news coverage that is
overwhelmingly dominated by Russian media sources. Our
Public Affairs Section recently has organized tours for
government press secretaries at Manas Airbase and for
journalists, tours of USAID projects in the field.



7. (SBU) The media environment is changing, however, and we
need to continue to be on the look out for new and innovative
ways to get our message out to the most influential actors in
society. The internet is rapidly taking on an importance in
Kyrgyzstan among the professional classes and youth. We feel
we need to establish both local and American officer
positions to help us tailor our message and its delivery.
YOVANOVITCH