An eight-member delegation from Kyrgyzstan are in Vilnius as part of an initiative supported by the OSCE Centre in Bishkek and the Soros Foundation in Kyrgyzstan to develop Kyrgyzstan’s public broadcasting service (PBS).

The study tour, with members of the Parliament, representatives of the Television Advisory Board and public broadcaster and an official from the OSCE Centre taking part, is the first leg of a study tour to Lithuania and Georgia. During the three day trip to Vilnius, which ends on 11 May, the group will meet with their counterparts to discuss at least three core components of the PBS model — political independence, financial independence and editorial content. Moreover, the parties will discuss Kyrgyzstan’s draft Law on Public Television, digital switchover and the role of an Advisory Board.

Ambassador Andrew Tesoriere, the Head of the OSCE Centre in Bishkek, said: “Kyrgyzstan is the first country in Central Asia to have transformed its state television broadcasting system into a public broadcasting service broadly in line with international standards. This visit to Lithuania, which currently holds the OSCE Chair, and subsequent trip to Georgia will allow the delegation from Kyrgyzstan to consider how it might best adapt its own PBS model to fit national circumstances and needs”.

“Transformation of the state channel into a public broadcaster is key in building a democratic and open society. We are witnessing a historic moment when all key stakeholders of this process are co-operating, willing to reform and learn from other states. We hope there will be no delay to this process,” said Kumar Bekbolotov, the executive director of the Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan.

A similar tour will take place in Georgia from 16 to 19 May with different representatives of the parliament, advisory board and broadcaster. Following the study visits, the delegations from Kyrgyzstan intend to draw up plans for further action, and will participate in a briefing and television programme about PBS development in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan Public Television, previously Kyrgyzstan National Television, gained its public status on 30 April 2010 by decree of the Provisional Government. The study tour is part of the OSCE Centre’s project on “Reinforcing Free Public TV in Kyrgyzstan”.