Turkmen Satcom Irony

Nice job by both Thales Space in building a Spacebus 4000C2 in 27 months and by SpaceX for launching it via the Falcon 9 from The Cape yesterday.

The spacecraft is going into a slot allocated to Monaco (52 deg. East). What they plan to do with it, we don’t know. First on the list is always some TV mux for direct-to-home application. It covers Africa, too, so I’m sure they’ll come up with something.

Ironically, the Turkmen government has issued an order to destroy all satellite dishes.

Authorities in Turkmenistan have started a new campaign of demolishing satellite dishes, aiming at fully blocking independent access to international TV and radio in the country, the Civic Solidarity Platform reported on April 19.

The government of Turkmenistan has taken a decision to liquidate all privately owned TV and radio satellite dishes in the country, demanding all of them to be demolished, be they on apartment buildings or private houses, and fully prohibit their use. This information has come from governmental sources.

This decision is aimed at fully blocking access of the population of Turkmenistan to hundreds of independent international media outlets which are currently accessible in the country only through satellite dishes, including all leading international news channels in different languages. The main target of this campaign is Radio Azatlyq, the Turkmen-language service of Radio Liberty/Free Europe. It is the only independent source of information about Turkmenistan and the world in the Turkmen language and is widely listened to in the country.

Overwhelming majority of the Turkmen public is able to listen to independent radio and watch foreign television through satellites; all houses in the cities of the country are equipped with dishes, legally bought by people in the last 20 years.

The demolition campaign started in the end of March. There have been earlier attempts in the course of the last few weeks when the local authorities at the level of communal management demanded that people take down the dishes or they will be demolished. However, residents refused, relocating the dishes from the walls to the roofs and collectively organising neighborhood watch groups on the roofs to protect their property from demolition. When local authorities demanded that people uninstall the dishes they did not present any legal grounds and did not produce any official documents, just citing a decision of the superior authorities. Now the government has started to use a new tactic: seasonal workers hired by municipal authorities come during the day when residents are at work and destroy the dishes, breaking the equipment. In Ashgabat the satellite dish demolition campaign is going full speed now, and thousands of satellite dishes have been already destroyed in many districts of the city in the last two weeks.

As a “replacement” for the demolished satellite dishes, the authorities offer “cable TV packages”, which include mostly entertainment channels produced by Russia, Turkey, and India. All TV and radio channels offering news are excluded from these “packages”.

The main argument used by the authorities to justify demolition of the dishes is that they “distort the architectural-urban image of the city.”

Experts believe that the authorities are now aiming at solving the problem of independent access to information through the satellite dishes for the third – and the last – time in anticipation of the next presidential elections scheduled for the beginning of 2017 to ensure full control over information.

You can’t be a modern country if you don’t allow free speech.


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