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Date: Mon, 26 Feb 1996 18:20:19 +0300
From: (Chris Gehring)
Subject: Kazakstan TV companies join to fight state film agency

Kazakstan TV companies join to fight state film agency

By Chris Gehring, Internews Network, 26 February 1996

Almaty television companies (private and government) are attacking Kazakkino, the state film company, which falls under the Ministry of Culture, for a move that could threaten the livlihood of many small stations.

11 broadcast leaders have joined together to write an open letter that has been published in at least two papers, "Panorama" and "Kazakstanskaia Pravda."

In it they criticize Kazakkino for trying to line its pockets at the expense of tv companies, (loose translation: "Here a simple but ingenuous idea is born--to make a faucet and sit under it.) and for trying to become official censors.

Earlier this month, Kazakkino sent a letter television stations in Almaty, and presumambly to other cities in Kazakstan, saying all public showings of films in movie theaters, video- and other halls, leased by video stores or video libraries (videoteki), shown on broadcast or cable television, must be registered with the "upravlenie reestra kino-, videoproizvedenii I inspektsii pri Goskinokompanii 'Kazakkino'." (basically a new company formed within Kazakkino.)

Kazakkino bases it claim on a directive issued by the Cabinet of Ministers last July, reportedly to "support the priority of national" programming.

Rates for the registration of programs were apparently approved in December by the finance ministry, and are scaled to the country of origin.

It is easy to see these rates will cause serious financial hardship for many broadcasters:

Rates (66 tenge = 1 USD)

Films made by Kazakstani studios:

Films made by CIS studios:

Films made in the far-abroad:

The rates will be determined in part by size of broadcast market.

Cassettes rented out by kiosks, stores, and video stores for private showing will be taxed at following rate:

The "price list" notes that the rates will be adjusted for inflation as needed.

The registration process can take up to 15 days.

Excerpt of the TV companies' letter:

'No, prochitav Postanovlenie Kabmina "O provilakh publichnoi demonstratsii kino-, videoproizvedenii", my poniali, chto prodeklarirovannaia Vami tsel'- "uporiadochenie publichnoi demonstratsii kino-, videoproizvedenii"- ne bolee, chem povod sozdat' sebe kormushku, a zaodno I pravo stat' ofitsial'nym tsenzorom.'

In their letter, the tv companies also dispute any argument that says Kazakkino's move is somehow connected to a desire to protect author's rights. They say if that was the intent, a decree could be issued forbiding the pirating of films. The broadcast professionals point out that Kazakstan has yet to pass a copyright law, but say they would welcome one. They also argue it should then be the role of the courts to fine those who break the law, and that Kazakkino should not have any role to play.

The letter was signed by:

- presidents of six private teleradio companies,
-the heads of four government and semi-govt tv companies (including D. Nazarbaeva, President Nazarbaev's daughter)
-the executive director the Kazakstan bureau of the Association of Independent Electronic Mass Media, which has 40 members in Kazakstan.

The authors were reportedly meeting late this afternoon (Monday) to further discuss their plan of action. I hear some tv companies are also doing news reports on the issue, but I myself haven't seen anything yet.

Chris Gehring
Internews Network