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First-Ever Live Sports Get Lifeless Reception On Turkmen State TV

Commentators from Turkmenistan Sport discuss the Euro 2012 football championship live during a broadcast on June 11.
For the first time ever, state television in Turkmenistan is broadcasting an international sporting event live. But no one seems to care.

Turkmenistan Sport is the new 24-hour state-run sports channel, which has been broadcasting Euro 2012 matches live to soccer-mad Turkmen. The Euro 2012 matches are being shown in Turkmenistan in casinos, hotels, and in cafes and restaurants.

The only problem, according to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, is that most Turkmen are already watching the matches -- and other sporting events -- live on popular Russian and Turkish sports channels, via ubiquitous (and legal) satellite dishes.

And the Russian and Turkish channels -- ORT, Rossiya, and TRT 1 -- have professional TV hosts adept at giving compelling play-by-play commentary.

The Turkmenistan Sport hosts, it seems, have an annoying tendency to inject a bit of politics into the proceedings, frequently thanking authoritarian Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov for creating the new channel in the first place.

So why create a 24-hour Turkmen sports channel? As an expensive public-relations exercise, most likely. Turkmen citizens who can't afford a satellite dish may figure something is better than nothing, even if it comes at the expense of burnishing Berdymukhammedov's personality cult.

When it's not broadcasting the Euro 2012 matches, Turkmenistan Sport often rebroadcasts feeds from Eurosport, the pan-European sports network, covering up the Eurosport logo with its own.

Copyright infringement be damned, it seems.

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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

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