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Reforms and media of Uzbekistan

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The media field in Uzbekistan has undergone big changes in recent years. Especially in matters of public control, ensuring transparency in the activities of State bodies, shaping public opinion and strengthening democratic values, writes Beruniy Alimov, director of the educational center “Yangi media”, doctor of philology.

Openness and transparency of state bodies

Uzbekistan is taking measures to improve public control. This is done, inter alia, through the openness and transparency of State bodies and organizations. The latter publish statistical data on the formation and expenditure of budgetary funds, the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, and the volume of foreign trade turnover and imports of goods and products.

On June 6, 2021, the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, adopted the Decree “On additional measures to ensure openness in the activities of State bodies and organizations and the effective implementation of public control.” It devotes a special role to the Anti-Corruption Agency. In particular, the Agency assists in the development and implementation of measures to establish effective public control over the activities of State bodies and organizations through the mass media.

In 2022 Uzbekistan introduced administrative liability for violation of legislation on the openness of the activities of public authorities and administration. That is, for failure to disclose information included in the list of publicly significant information to be posted as open information, failure to comply with the deadline and procedure for publication, or falsification of information.

The updated Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan should also be noted. Article 81 ensures the freedom of the mass media and the guarantees and conditions of that freedom.

Active position of journalists and work of press services

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The above-mentioned changes allow journalists to send requests to state bodies, conduct journalistic investigations, and bring societal problems into light. Thanks to the active media, Uzbekistan has introduced a moratorium on tree felling. Journalists identify and expose corruption, violations of the law and citizens’ rights. Thus, they play a direct role of an intermediary between the authorities and the population.

The President of Uzbekistan has adopted a decree on the development of press services of state agencies. This was done to ensure openness before the people, to work closely with the media, journalists and bloggers on public issues, and to propel the status of press secretaries to the level of deputy head of department. At the same time, there is a mechanism of accountability of heads of state bodies to the media and the public: regular briefings, press conferences, explanations on various issues, including high-profile ones, are held.

These measures made it possible to broaden the boundaries of openness in the information field. As a result, more than half of the news information flow on the Internet is formed thanks to the work of press services of government agencies, as well as thematic press tours, meetings, briefings and press conferences.

In addition, the Agency for Information and Mass Communications, together with the press secretaries of state bodies, created a mechanism for prompt response to citizens’ appeals, as well as critical and widely discussed topics in the media. As part of this work, more than 10,000 responses and expert opinions on the identified materials were published in the media, social networks and messengers.

Some of the institutional changes

On September 14, 2019, the Public Council on Development of Information Sphere and Mass Communications was established under the Parliament of Uzbekistan. This decision was taken to increase the importance of public organizations in shaping public opinion on topical issues. The council includes representatives of media, public organizations, science and culture, as well as deputies, independent experts and specialists of other civil society institutions.

The Committee on Information Policy and Transparency in the activities of State Bodies of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan was established in 2021.

These measures enabled the national media to fulfill the functions of public control. Media began to pay attention to the ongoing reforms and to assist in identifying and resolving issues of concern to the population. Together, this leaves a positive impact on the work of government agencies, local executive bodies and the elimination of significant shortcomings in their work.

As the president of Uzbekistan has repeatedly noted, media and journalists are “the most influential force that bring the voice and opinion of the people to the general public and state bodies.”

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