DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan’s communications watchdog has instructed private radio and television companies to report about their weekly broadcast plans each Monday.
Editors of several private broadcasters in Dushanbe told RFE/RL on February 5 that they were notified about the new requirement by two letters received over the past week.
The letters, dated February 4 and January 31, were signed by the head of the State Inspectorate for Radio and Television, Tojiddin Karimzoda. The inspectorate is part of the State Committee for Radio and Television Broadcasting (KTRT).
In the letters, seen by RFE/RL, the broadcasters were warned that "measures would be taken" against them if they do not provide their weekly broadcast plans by 8.00 a.m. each Monday.
The private radio and television companies were also urged to broadcast more programs “promoting patriotism [and] stressing the importance of Tajikistan's independence, its traditions, and history."
The head of the National Association of Independent Media in Tajikistan, Nuriddin Qarshiboev, called the demands illegal, saying "nobody has a right to interfere in media outlets' editorial policies."
The letters “mean direct control over and restriction of the editorial policies” of private broadcasters, according to Qarshiboev.
Tajikistan ranks 161st out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.