Kyrgyzstan parliament approves bill restricting foreign media ownership

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The parliament of Kyrgyzstan on June 22 gave initial approval to a bill restricting the participation of foreign individuals and organizations in ownership and establishment of media outlets in the country. The legislation also bans activities of media outlets financially supported by foreign countries.

Lawmakers approved the first reading of the bill by a vote of 79-30.

The text needs to be approved by the parliament in its second and third readings and signed by the president before coming into force.

Local civil right activists have protested the bill, saying its main goal is to curb the flow of independent and timely information in Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.  

The bill’s initiator, Kojobek Ryspayev, said at the parliament’s session on June 22 that the proposed legislation only restricts foreign participation in media ownership in Kyrgyzstan and concerns television channels only.     

“We have revised the bill after receiving numerous complaints. We have removed provisions concerning Internet media organizations and decided to apply restrictions on foreign funding for television channels only, allowing foreign participation of no more than 35 percent. That means that Kyrgyzstan citizens must own 65 percent [of shares in TV channels],” KyrTAG information agency quoted Ryspayev as saying.     

The bill also proposes giving political parties and other legal entities the right for establishing media outlets while depriving public associations and labor collectives of such right.

Sergey Kwan

TCA