Accessibility links

Breaking News

Mongolia Journal: 11 Windows On The Mongol Soul

Who's got the remote?
Who's got the remote?
RFE/RL correspondent Daisy Sindelar and multimedia producer Margot Buff are exploring Mongolia for a week. -- Eds.

Nothing to do in Ulan Bator?

Turn on the radio. They’ve got 34 FM stations alone.

Prefer reading? There are a dozen daily newspapers to choose from.

Or maybe you just want to settle down in front of the TV. The Mongolian capital has 11 free-access channels (not to mention innumerable cable and satellite options).

A quick glance at the small-screen fare says a lot about the Mongolian mindset.

Four out of the 11 channels on a recent afternoon were broadcasting wrestling. With the Grand Sumo tournament winding down to its nail-biting final days in Japan, all eyes are on Asashoryu, the solidly built yokozuna champion leading the pack of Mongolian wrestlers now dominating this decidedly Japanese sport.

(“Ours are less fat, more muscle” said one fan, explaining the Mongolians’ success.)

Wrestling not to your taste? There was also a U.S.-sponsored Christian broadcasting station featuring violent-ish allegorical dramas, Sean Connery speaking Mongolian, a news report on holistic health, Pingu the ubiquitous claymation penguin, and two teen-targeting channels with screens subdivided into music videos, classified ads, and live chat rooms. Good stuff.

If TV had been around in the 13th century, Genghis Khan might have just stayed home.

-- Daisy Sindelar

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

Latest Posts