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RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service: Radio Azattyk

Radio Azattyk seeks to bridge divides within Kyrgyz society by providing influential audiences with informed reporting and balanced debate on topics that other media ignore, including minority rights, government corruption, and Islamic radicalism.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Kyrgyz
  • Established: 1953
  • Distribution: Radio (nationwide FM, SW, satellite), TV (ElTR Public channel and NTS private channel, 12 affiliates), Internet (website, mobile, social media)
  • Coverage: Radio: 7.5 hours daily, TV: five 30-minute shows weekly on ElTR and 10 minutes daily. World news six days a week on NTS channel.
  • Staff: 9 in Prague, 23 in Bishkek, 27 stringers in Kyrgyzstan and abroad.

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Ranking, 2017: Not Free (148/198).
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2017: 89/180.
  • While media in Kyrgyzstan have traditionally enjoyed greater editorial freedom than their regional counterparts, content is subject to political, ethnic, and regional biases and influence.

Highlights

  • The Kyrgyz Service is the leading source of independent news and information for elites and ordinary citizens alike. A March 2016 Gallup survey found that Radio Azattyk reaches more than 40 percent of the population every week via TV, radio, and digital platforms. A Baltic Surveys poll in February 2015 found that Radio Azattyk is considered the most reliable radio station in Kyrgyzstan.
  • The Kyrgyz Service actively engages with its audience on Facebook (109,000 followers), Twitter (15,000 followers) and YouTube (73,000 subscribers). The service’s website received an average of 4.0 million page views and 1.4 million visits per month in 2016.
  • The Kyrgyz Service's weekly television programs -- the political talk show "Inconvenient Questions" and youth-oriented "Azattyk+" -- reach nearly 4 in 10 Kyrgyzstanis every week and are considered among the best programs on Kyrgyz television.
  • The Kyrgyz Service has produced unique, investigative TV reports about migrants’ radicalization in Russia, sex trafficking from Central Asia to Turkey, parliamentary democracy in Sweden and Latvia, and migrants’ lives in Italy.

Awards

  • The Kyrgyz Service was awarded the 2016 Webby People's Voice Award for its social video, Watch This Disabled Boy's World Change In Two Minutes, produced in cooperation with the Current Time TV digital unit.
  • The Service’s radio documentary, This 13-Year-Old Kyrgyz Girl Supports Her Whole Family, received a Finalist Certificate at the 2016 New York Festival Annual Radio Awards. The documentary was shown on Russian TV’s 1st channel, ORT, and helped raise funds for the family from viewers around the world.
  • Among the distinctions received by the Service at the Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan [One World] International Film Festival in November 2016, its investigative TV documentary on sexual abuse and violence against children, I Am Not Afraid To Speak, won first prize in the children’s rights category.

Updated: 1 August 2017

Facts & Stats about Kyrgystan

  • Population: 6.08 million (World Bank estimate, 2016)
  • Most Common Languages: Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian, Dungun
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, 67th out of 100 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 89th out of 180 (2017)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 136 out of 176 (2017)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 111 out of 163 (2017)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Kyrgystan (2017)
  • Amnesty International: Kyrgystan Report (2016/2017)

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