Kazakhstan: Amendments to mass media legislation to protect state language:

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Wed Dec 31 15:30:58 UTC 2008

Amendments to mass media legislation to protect state language:

Kairat Sak

According to Director of the Department of Journalism of the Eurasian
National L. Gumilev University, Doctor in Philology, Associate
Professor Kairat Sak, the bill absolutely meets the requirements of
time. The scientist considers it is important to take into account
interests of the state language in the draft law.

17 years have passed since Kazakhstan gained its independence. During
this short historical period the country has achieved a lot. While
building democracy, we focus on the developed countries of Europe, but
we must not forget that we are the Kazakhs.

The Kazakh Ministry of Culture and Information submitted to the
Government a draft law "On amendments and additions to some
legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on mass media". As is
known, this document was developed not only by officials. The working
group included representatives of a number of nongovernmental
organizations and the journalistic community.

It is difficult to overestimate the significance of the results
reached. Introduction of some new norms in the document is a serious
achievement. It was possible due to the insistence of non-governmental
sector and readiness of the government officials for an open dialogue.
Anyway, the Kazakh legislation made an important step toward the media

In my opinion, the draft law is timely. Public political activity
grows. Every day new faces, including political figures appear on
television and in newspapers. Journalists have immense amount of work,
literally overloaded, which affects the quality of their works. And
the problem here is not their professionalism, but the legislation.

In accordance with the current legislation, a reporter should obtain
permission for audio- and video recording in an interview.  This
situation often prevents the normal circulation of information. The
new bill includes amendments to address this problem. The document
allows a journalist to use voice recorder or camera without special

And this is not the only good news for mass media. The bill simplifies
journalists' access to information. Under the current law, in case if
an official did not reply, a reporter is to complain to senior
officials and only to the court. The amendments will allow journalists
to go to the courts immediately after the first failure. Thus the
draft law authors introduced a barrier for possible corruption.

I call to mind the President's speech at the forum of "Nur Otan"
People's Democratic Party. The Head of the State noted that
Kazakhstan's anticorruption legislation serves as a model for all CIS
member countries. I think we must continue to be a model for
neighboring countries. And for that we should constantly improve our

As for the main issue of this article, I would like to note that all
new amendments are aimed at protection of rights and interests of
journalists. It is another step toward creation of the most favorable
conditions for the media. There will be the improvement of the quality
of the final product and consumers will be satisfied. In short, the
project meets the requirements of time and public interest. But…

I think the authors have overlooked something. The bill has no
provisions aimed at the state language development. The percentage of
Kazakhs in the population of the country is steadily growing. In this
regard the share of the Kazakh language should be increased in the
country's information space. It should be legislated. I think there is
no better promoter of language policy than the mass media.

In general, the project developed by the Ministry of Culture and
Information can be called progressive. The proposed amendments will
help solve the current problems of the Kazakh media. But the
legislation should take into account not only market conditions but
also the needs of the society. The most important requirement for
today is strengthening if not salvation of national culture. A risk to
repeat mistakes of the past is increased within the globalization. We
should not allow it. We must do everything to protect our language.


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