DUSHANBE , January 19, Asia-Plus - On Wednesday January 18, the BBC made a formal complaint to the Tajik Government.  It follows the suspension of the BBC’s services in Tajikistan on FM frequencies by the Tajik authorities since January 10 2006 , press released issued by the BBC World Service says. 

BBS services on medium and short waves in Tajikistan remain unaffected.

Suhrob Ziyo, head of office of the BBC’s Persian Service in Tajikistan , has told Asia-Plus that the suspension follows a recently ratified Tajik media legislation requiring international broadcasters on FM to register with the Tajik Ministry of Justice and acquire a broadcasting license.  However, although the BBC has started the new process for registration, the 20-day deadline was unrealistic for a process, and the BBC has requested that services are resumed immediately while the registration process is completed, according to Suhrob Ziyo.  “The point is that we broadcast not like the local electronic media,” said he, “We send our reports to London and broadcasting is conducted from there.  As any other foreign media we are registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs annually getting accreditation.”  However, according to him, the issue of acquiring the broadcasting license has been repeatedly discussed during bilateral meetings of the BBC leadership with senior representatives from Tajikistan ’s Ministry of Communications and Committee for TV and Radio-broadcasting.   “They have promised to solve this issue at the level of intergovernmental agreement,” said Suhrob Ziyo, “But despite this, on December 10 the Communications Ministry and the Committee for TV and Radio-broadcasting received a letter by deputy Prime Minister Khayrinisso Mavlonova obligating us to acquire a media license by January 10, 2006 .  Of course, we failed to get the broadcasting license for such a short term, and on January 11, the BBC’s services in Tajikistan on FM frequencies were suspended.”  

Press release issued by the BBC World Service says that over the last week the BBC has made several representations to the Tajik authorities.  Since there has been no formal response from the authorities, the BBC yesterday made a formal complaint to the Government of Tajikistan.  The BBC has requested that services are resumed immediately while the registration process is completed.

BBC World Service Director Nigel Chapman says: “The BBC has a legal contract and a license to broadcast on FM and we would like that to be honored.  The BBC is happy to comply with the new law but the process takes considerably more time than has been allowed by the Tajik authorities.”  “There is no reason why listeners in Tajikistan should be deprived of our services on FM while these bureaucratic hurdles are overcome.”

In the meantime, First Deputy Chairman of the Tajik Committee for TV and Radio-broadcasting, Abdurrahmon Abdumannonov, has told Asia-Plus that the issue of providing broadcasting license to the BBC should be considered at the intergovernmental level.  “They have been given time, during which they had to pass through an official registration process,” said Abdumannonov, “Indeed, we did not sent them an official message because they knew that they are acting illegally.”  “At present a special commission is being set up to solve this problem.  Solution of this issue will take up a certain time,” the Tajik official said, stressing that the issue is not politically motivated.

Igor Sattarov, a spokesman with the Tajik MFA, commenting on this situation said: “Before the suspension the BBC broadcast in Tajikistan in accordance with technical agreement concluded with open joint-stock company “Teleradiocom” singed in London .  While according amendments made to the RT law “On Licensing Separate Types of Activities”, each of media should register with the Ministry of Justice and acquire a media license.”  “As soon as the BBC receives the services will be resumed.”    

Information of Asia-Plus: The BBC has been broadcasting in Tajikistan since 1996 on medium wave.  In 2004, the BBC launched two 24-hour FM relays, in Dushanbe and Khujand, with programs in Tajik (Persian); as well broadcasts in Russian and English.  The BBC is currently the only international broadcaster available on FM in Tajikistan and has legal contract and license to broadcast.