An international roundtable discussion in Tashkent has provided an effective platform to address application of international standards in covering presidential elections in Uzbekistan by nongovernmental TV and radio broadcasters of the country in the context of national experience and global practices.

The forum was organized by the National Association of Electronic Mass Media (NAEMM) in partnership with the Central Election Commission (CEC), representative offices of Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Germany) and UNESCO in Uzbekistan.

Taking part in it were deputies of Oliy Majlis, officials of the ministries and government agencies, foreign experts from Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, France, representatives of diplomatic corps and international organizations accredited in Uzbekistan, of political parties and mass media.

Speaking at the opening of the forum, chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on the Management of Resources of the Public Fund to Support NGOs and Other Civil Society Institutions under the Oliy Majlis A.Saidov, chairman of the Board of the National Association of Electronic Mass Media Firdavs Abdukhalikov, chairman of the Central Election Commission Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov noted that the reforms, being carried out in the country, represent in themselves a multifaceted process, in which the quality of democratic renovation was largely determined by the level of public opinion, while mass media play a major role in shaping it.

As a rule, people learn about the course of election campaign from the newspapers, via TV, radio and Internet. And mass media provide us not only with all the news about the elections, but they also have an opportunity to create the politicians’ images and render a decisive impact on the voters’ political preferences.

There are also serious qualitative transformations taking place today in the media sphere along with quantitative changes. The essence and content, themes covered in the articles published in the newspapers and magazines and broadcast over the radio and television while meeting modern requirements, serve as an evidence of expanding outlook, growing experience, knowledge and professional skills of domestic journalists. Such unbiased implications were voiced in the speeches made by many experts, representatives of international organizations accredited in Uzbekistan, who monitor on a regular basis the progressive changes taking place among young journalists.

“The National Association of Electronic Mass Media of Uzbekistan jointly with the Central Election Commission signed a bilateral agreement on covering presidential elections in Uzbekistan, which is an evidence of credibility of the non-government TV and radio stations,” noted in his speech chairperson of the NAEMM Firdavs Abdukhalikov. “This, in its turn, puts on us greater responsibility. This document triggered an active preparatory work from the side of non-government radio broadcasters to the process of covering the elections. 263 reports, 126 news items, and 63 public opinion surveys have already been prepared in this area to date. During the subsequent period we plan to prepare and broadcast more than 400 materials, and we will try to highlight this important political event promptly and objectively.

“We all know that the mass media, covering the election campaign these days, are an important factor of raising the level of legal culture and awareness of citizens about all stages of preparation for and conducting the elections, and facilitating their active participation in this event. It is undeniable that free and fair elections are carried out not only for the sake of opportunity to vote, but to exercise the right to receive information about the election process and the candidates. The electorate may justifiably cast their votes to a definite candidate only on condition that they have full information about him or her. The growing interest in the candidates, their programs, ideas and objectives, and to their future in general is a positive sign of democracy.”

“The election campaign in Uzbekistan is covered not only by national but also foreign mass media. Thus, the objective reflection of preparatory process and conducting elections for introducing this political process to the entire global community turns, in this connection, into yet another priority task facing our media workers.”

Responses to the election campaign in Uzbekistan have already appeared in the foreign press. In particular, the newspaper Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) published an article stating that the upcoming presidential elections in Uzbekistan will raise to “a qualitatively new level the processes of further deepening democratic reforms.” The Israeli newspaper “Globe” writes about a large-scale propaganda campaign launched and carried out by the candidates. A Pakistani TV channel presented a story about the election campaign in Uzbekistan, which provided detailed information about the “Uzbek model of development”, which had made it possible to hold democratic elections. As we can see, foreign journalists are involved in creating the image of our independent state.

After signing the bilateral agreement with the Central Election Commission the NAEMM conducted a general conference of the NAEMM members aimed at preparation for and coverage of presidential elections. A Program of covering the elections by NAEMM and non-government TV and radio studios was discussed and approved at the conference. The Program consists of six directions of activities.

One of them includes conducting training seminars on electoral legislation for creative groups of the non-government TV and radio stations with the participation of members of the Central Election Commission. This is what the OSCE expert on the issues of freedom of mass media in Vienna, chairperson of the Creative Union of Journalists of Lithuania Dainus Radzevichius says about the work carried out in this direction:

“Coverage of election processes in regional TV channels plays a major role. Any journalist should be well aware about the electoral legislation. The programs broadcast by non-government TV studios, which I have been able to watch, were prepared at a high level from this point of view. I have no doubt that presidential elections in Uzbekistan will be successful. And the merit in this goes to national mass media, which carry out large-scale and diverse activities in covering the election campaign.”

Another direction envisages conducting events with the participation of international experts with the aim of demonstration the opportunities and conditions created for non-government electronic mass media on the expression of their active civic stance. Here’s the opinion of the UNESCO senior councilor Mogens Schmidt on the events carried out in this direction:

“The seminars organized by the NAEMM, at which I had a chance to participate, were held in an interesting and informative way. Taking part in them were the youths and girls, who try to master European standards in covering the elections and apply them in practice. They are all true patriots of their country and their occupation, which they strive to continuously improve. They try to stay close to the people in their professional creative activity, and this too is a manifestation of Uzbekistan’s democratic standards.”

Another two directions in the NAEMM program provide for preparation of quick and authentic media products by the Association’s information services and its radio information center and their delivery to non-government TV and radio broadcasters.

This is what Doctor Eugene Eteris, international observer of the internet magazine (Denmark) says about this activity:

“The success of independent TV and radio stations of Uzbekistan in covering presidential elections rests in its focus and dedication to the youth not only in the quality of its target audience, but also in the makeup of its working personnel. Working in the non-government TV and radio stations today are predominantly young people and they demonstrate high level of professionalism in covering such a rather complicated subject as election of a head of state. I feel impressed about the huge volume of these programs and their high quality.”

Yet another direction is production of social media products and TV and radio commercials, devoted to explaining the essence and significance of elections, basic provisions and procedure of voting, and functioning of polling stations. Head of UNESCO Office in Uzbekistan Krista Pikkat highly assessed the media content elaborated in this direction:

“The creative staff of NAEMM has done a tremendous job in covering the pre-election campaign; the non-government TV and radio companies cover the elections at the global level. As far as social commercials are concerned, they are interesting in their ideas and content, as well as in their consideration of the interests of the country’s younger generation.”

The last direction assumes preparation of talk-shows on the subject of elections with the participation of representatives of the CEC, political parties, and the presidential candidates’ confidants and transmitting them by the non-government TV and radio stations. President of the Federal Association of Television Companies of Germany Rene Falkner expressed his opinion on this subject:

“I have watched with great interest some of the shows broadcast over the channel “My voice” – they are very interesting, quite acute at times and they represent a wide range of voters’ opinions. And the master classes, which I conducted in Tashkent, were devoted to international experience in preparing talk-shows on important socio-political events. Many NAEMM young staff members demonstrated during the training their willingness and ability to enrich those programs. I have no doubt that they will be able to improve further their skills and potential.”

Local and foreign experts noted at the “round table” discussions that the electoral processes differ from one country to another. However, this circumstance does not remove the use of international standards in covering the election process. There is a possibility to assess the extent of creating necessary conditions for an informed and conscientious choice of every citizen of the country with the help of those landmarks and through the analysis and realistic evaluation of the opportunities of the country’s media sector. The forum participants expressed their confidence in that it had united them in their aspiration to achieve true democracy and their desire to ensure that every voice was heard and headed to.

The foreign experts underlined that they were able not only to discuss but also sum up certain results of application of international standards in covering presidential elections in Uzbekistan by non-government TV and radio studios of the country, which deserve the highest appreciation.

Recommendations have been elaborated on the further coverage of election processes on the basis of advanced countries’ international experiences.

Author: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper


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