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The authorities of Ashgabat continue to dismantle satellite aerials

vlasti ahkhabada prodolzhait demontazhThe authorities of Ashgabat continue to dismantle private satellite aerials in the densely-populated districts of Ashgabat. As an alternative, a restricted set of TV channels from cable television service is offered to the owners of aerials by the authorities.

At the same time, the authorities have imposed a fee for the installation and maintenance of cable networks. The residents are concerned that the program package may be arbitrarily changed by the authorities. Moreover, they are authorized to momentarily cut off broadcasting service virtually in all densely-populated districts of Ashgabat, and throughout the entire city in the long-term perspective.

The campaign to dismantle satellite aerials was initiated after the Presidents statement satellite aerials uglify the appearance of the city, which was voiced at the start of the year.

At the same time, the authorities do not pay any attention to numerous air-conditioning units installed on the walls of the buildings, which uglify the appearance of the city no less than satellite aerials. In hot Turkmen climate, especially in high-rise concrete buildings, air-conditioners are required to ensure basic living conditions. Conditioners are installed virtually in all apartments. Needless to say that cooling units of air conditioners are also located on the exterior walls of residential buildings.

After several publications had appeared in foreign mass media, the authorities temporarily suspended the dismantling of satellite aerials, but resumed the process in October. The aerials were reportedly dismantled in the residential district Mir-4. As before, municipal authorities fail to present any documents authorising them to remove the aerials. This is not only an infringement upon private property of the countrys citizens but a grave encroachment upon one of the underlying human rights the right to free and unhampered access to information.

The human rights activists demonstrate increased concern over the initiatives of the authorities aimed at curtailing human rights, in particular encroachment upon the right to free access to information. Their concerns are justified, especially after the Turkmen authorities set up a special censorship commission. The commission is responsible for assessing the artistic value in works of art. Furthermore, it is authorized to impose bans on fiction publications, theatrical productions, film making, as well releasing these films in motion-picture theatres and TV broadcasts. Thus, the authorities have seriously curtailed the right to freedom of creativity, freedom of speech and self-expression.

International observers highlight that broadcasting of satellite channels on shared cable networks and levying a fee can be treated as a violation of copyright, proprietary and allied rights of owners of transmitted channels. There have been confirmed reports that none of the government agencies of Turkmenistan started negotiations with the owners of satellite channels. This is popularly referred to as piracy. In the case with Turkmenistan this can be treated as piracy on the national level.

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