New Chief at KOORT TV

by Deirdre on 8/25/2006 · 2 comments

Oksana Malevannaya, has become the boss of KOORT TV in Kyrgyzstan. She is the politician daughter of a well-known journalist.

Malevannaya is an obvious choice for the job, but there seems to be something larger afoot here: What is it with Bakiyev and journalists? If he’s not making them ambassador to the US, Britain, or Austria and the OSCE he’s giving them their own TV stations.

A series of changes to Kyrgyzstan’s major television stations has left observers wondering whether there are plans afoot to merge some broadcasters, a move which would reduce the diversity of news and comment on offer.

Oksana Malevannaya, a journalist well-known for her management skills and independent stance, on August 23 became the new head of Kyrgyz Public Educational Radio and Television, KOORT, leaving her position at New Television Networks, NTS.

This move was preceded by the shutdown of the Pyramida television company, which announced on August 17 that due to technical difficulties, it was discontinuing broadcasting until further notice. Pyramida, an independent station with a reputation for opposition sympathies leanings, changed hands in December last year, and is widely rumoured to be undergoing deep internal divisions.

Experts say these events may not be closely related, but their outcomes may jointly contribute to a narrowing of media choices for viewers in Kyrgyzstan.

Well-informed sources inside the television world say that the leadership change at KOORT was driven by a need to modernise and develop the station, and was not politically motivated. Malevanaya, a well-known media manager, is largely behind the change in KOORT’s format, and observers suggest that the station, which is to change its name to Channel Five on October 1, may become the Kyrgyz equivalent of CNN.

But media watchers are worried about the future of NTS, which under Malevannaya’s leadership was valued for its independent and professional news coverage. She may also take some of NTS’s staff with her, and it is not yet clear who will get her old job.

Analysts think the two companies could be merged into one media holding, a change which would suit the interests of certain influential political groups. The TV stations within such a media holding would maintain the appearance of independence they had before, so as to better position themselves as shapers of public opinion. (IWPR)

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Edil August 25, 2006 at 10:53 am

Malevannaya’s success at NTS is due to generous funding the channel received and a critical position towards Bakiev’s administration taken by the channel owners (MP Babanov). After ‘Alyans’ – the network of gas stations co-owned by Babanov with his Moscow chechen partners was bought out by Gazprom, rumours abound about NTS also giving up its independent position. Malevannaya’s transfer to KOORT, long believed to be taken over by Bakiev’s son, is not a tragedy for free media. The tragedy is that with electronic media – what really counts is who owns the channels and not journalistic professionalism.

olivia August 31, 2006 at 4:36 pm

you forgot that he also makes really bizarre people press secretaries. also, as i wrote about a few times on eurasianet in 2004, the whole nts/pyramida thing was very weird from the beginning, and always sketchier than any of the rumors even indicated.

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