Monday, April 28, 2008

Central Asian broadcasters call for more independent reporting

Journalists working for state broadcasters should write more stories that are relevant to the lives of ordinary citizens, a workshop on regional journalism was told on Friday. Gulnara Ibrayeva, Head of Apparatus for the National TV and Radio Corporation of Kyrgyzstan, was speaking at a roundtable on “Challenges Confronting Regional Journalists” held as part of the Eurasian Media Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
She said that there were too many reports of “where the President travels and which ambassadors the President receives” on state broadcasting channels. “How is that relevant to the lives of ordinary citizens?” Ms Ibrayeva asked.
She said that important news that citizens ought to be informed about was often neglected by state broadcasters. “For example, we had an inter-racial conflict near Bishkek, but the local media didn’t report it. It was only covered by the Russian media and CNN. “This is a legacy of the Soviet Union where mass media was viewed as an instrument of ideology,” she added.
Other panelists from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan gave examples of how so-called “news” reports on state TV and radio channels were based on government press releases and involved no independent reporting. They also discussed how many private channels were reluctant to present alternative views or analysis for fear of upsetting governments and losing advertising contracts.
Natalya Bandrovskaya, Director of Kazakhstan’s Rika TV, said that private channels were lucky to receive five percent of government advertising budgets because most of the money went to state channels that broadcast “news” that was favourable to the government. She also said that the tender process to secure government advertising was long and arduous involving submission of a lot of irrelevant documentation.
Kumar Bekbolotov, the Central Asian Programmes Director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) in Kyrgyzstan, told the workshop that there was a direct connection between the level of professionalism of journalists and the independence of the media in the Central Asian republics. He said this could only be overcome through the training of journalists to promote more independent reporting.
(Source: Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)