Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has signed a decree that will see government-run television and radio move to a self-financing model, in a bid to develop state broadcasting and and increase pitiful audience figures.
State financing for television and radio broadcasting will be gradually reduced over the course of four year years, beginning in 2018. The decision to move to a self-financing model is largely drawn from a desire to win viewers from foreign channels, which currently enjoy far higher viewing rates.
Radio Free Europe / Liberty's Turkmen service, Radio Azatlyk, notes that Turkmen state TV is monotonous, lacking in information and very propagandistic. For this reason, many residents prefer to watch foreign channels on satellite TV, mostly Russian and Turkish.
In addition, in the past Mr Berdimuhamedow has expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of development of domestic television. Turkmen authorities have long been campaigning for the dismantling of the satellite dishes (fondly known as “plates”) that adorn apartment blocks and houses throughout the country, installed by many residents to watch foreign TV channels.