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Tajikistan8 August 2006

Government refuses to give broadcasting licence to BBC

Reporters Without Borders today condemned Tajikistan’s refusal to give a licence to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) so its radio service could be heard in the country and called it “another alarming attempt by the regime to prevent people hearing news from foreign media and independent sources” and part of a general attempt to obstruct the work of foreign radio stations in Central Asian countries.

The Tajik state broadcasting authority turned down on 2 August a BBC application made two weeks earlier for permission to broadcast on FM in the capital, Dushanbe, and the northern town of Khujand. The authority’s chief, Abdurakhmon Abdumannonov, said it could not be granted because there was no special agreement between the two countries. The justice ministry had however approved on 26 June the opening of a BBC bureau in Dushanbe.

The BBC broadcasts on medium wave in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan and only on FM in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Turkmenistan just gets the programmes by short wave. Only FM provides everyone with good technical quality broadcasts.

The Tajik authorities stopped the BBC broadcasting on FM on 10 January for supposedly “administrative” reasons, saying it had not provided in good time the documents needed for a new licence under new rules made in September 2005, which also required an agreement between Tajikistan and the applicant’s government.

President Emomali Rakhmonov shut down many privately-owned newspapers and radio and TV stations in the country after rioting in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan in March 2005 and the uprising in Andijan, in Uzbekistan, in May that year.

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