MARCH 17, 2004
Posted: April 28, 2004
The independent television station Pyramida, based in the Kyrgyz capital
of Bishkek, stopped broadcasting because of a technical problem with the
transmission equipment it shares with a state television channel.
When the problem was fixed a week later, the Kyrgyz National Communications
Agency (NCA), which is responsible for regulating broadcasting frequencies,
said that returning Pyramida to the air would interfere with the broadcasts
of the state television channel, the London-based Institute for War and
Peace Reporting (IWPR) reported.
NCA Director Kubanichbek Begaliev told CPJ that the problem with Pyramida
was purely technical and stemmed from the station's use of a very old
But Pyramida Director Andrei Tsvetkov says that Pyramida's weekly political
show, "Nashe Vremya" (Our Time), which is financed by the U.S.-based National
Democratic Institute, might have angered authorities because it features
opposition leaders, along with ruling politicians.
"Pyramida is the only independent television station in Bishkek," Tsvetkov
told CPJ. "It is popular because it gives the Kyrgyz public an objective
view of current events."
Kuban Mambetaliev, director of the nongovernmental organization Public
Association "Journalists" in Bishkek, said Kyrgyz authorities have found
the station's objective reporting inconvenient, especially in the run-up
to local elections scheduled for October 2004 and parliamentary elections
due in February 2005.
He said that his organization, along with several other human rights and
media associations, had sent a letter to President Askar Akayev a week
after Pyramida's shutdown asking for the station to be allowed to broadcast
The government did not change its policy until April 26, when President
Akayev met with financier and philanthropist George Soros. Soros, who
met with Kyrgyz media representatives the next day, assured them that
Akayev had promised to take care of the situation. Pyramida resumed its
broadcasting that evening, on April 27.
Because the station was off the air, Pyramida has suffered significant
financial losses, Tsvetkov told CPJ. It has lost important advertisers,
and the station's staff has been forced to go on an unpaid leave.