Shavkat Sabirov. New Media in Kazakhstan: Analysis and Development Trends

Shavkat SABIROV

New Media in Kazakhstan: Analysis and Development Trends

The knowledge society and the digital economy of Kazakhstan are tightly connected to the most important component – information space, which represents the major factor of economic development of the country. The rapid development of the media environment results in changes that take place in a short period and are measured by a few days or weeks. New opportunities for communication, exchange of information and business development fundamentally change not only the society, but the whole structure of the state. New media technologies have become a crucial factor of influence on the social, economic, political and cultural lives of millions of people.

Kazakhstan's information space is evolving dynamically and progressively, especially in comparison with other Central Asian countries. The following result was due to the emergence of a huge digital gulf in the development of access to public services, the Internet and the subsequent rise in its use. The gap in technologic capacity and the quality of broadband in the era of the digital world leads, apart from everything else, to the emergence of substantial differences among population, society and business.

The main drivers of the digital society growth of Kazakhstan are the following:

1. The digitalisation of the electronic government and public online services, which turned out to be a stimulus for the society to use the new technologies.

2. The massive use of bank technologies in everyday life, which inevitably leads to electronic paid services development.

3. The economic expansion of the state facilitates the emergence of business and society directions.

4. The high level of Internet penetration and its availability for citizens of the country.

5. The population growth in Kazakhstan.

The intensive increase in the use of the new technologies took place due to the drivers of the information space, which eventually led to the application of new technologies in daily life, monetisation and commercialisation of information domains, emergence of new and modern methods of communication and extending the audience due to mobile devices. The high birth rate consequently resulted in the youth space emergence in the media consumption of the country.

Clearly, the active development of the information space resulted in the growing convergence of the information and communication technologies sector and media systems, which fuses traditional and new media flows of information. Convergence emerged as a phenomenon in the modern information nature on several levels, starting with information integration and communication technologies up to business technologies and consumers, users and technologies of corporate applications. The new creation models and information delivery from the user to the biggest information resource enable the instant publication of materials in the new media and social networks. The development of the digital market of Kazakhstan influences the quality of the content and its delivery, business promotion and advertising, marketing and telecommunications, along with the interplay of government and society.

The deliberation of the media consumption in Kazakhstan 15 years ago was irrelevant, since the majority of Kazakh people paid little attention to the local news, whereas Russian content was more in need. Starting in 2010, however, the Kazakh media online space formation has begun. This period has created new media, new inform agencies appeared and the young network of domestic opinion leaders emerged in the information space. Nowadays, the average Kazakh Internet user starts his/her office hours by browsing local news and hence demonstrates its participation in media consumption. On the other hand, the Kazakh media market constantly continued to be put under pressure by both foreign media agencies and the repeatedly changing political agenda.

The analysis of media consumption in Kazakhstan in past and current years shows that a steady “consumer society" of media content was forged. According to the data taken from Mediametrics Kazakhstan (mediametrics.kz), the website of the analytics of news products, Kazakhstan generates more than 40,000 news articles monthly within the 11-million audience consumption of page views. The evaluation and analysis of data is based on the demand rate of Kazakh media on the World Wide Web. This analysis implies data about the quantity of users from the global web switching to Kazakh websites, along with the fixation of the main social networks, searching systems and other exterior sources of information that those visitors use. This performance is recorded on 190 Kazakh websites, which allows consolidating data on each user from the exterior source in the specific period. In this particular article, we examine 46 sources of the external transitions among which are Android, Facebook, Google, GoogleAPIs, Google News, LentaInform, Mediametrics, Odnoklassniki, Twitter, Vkontakte, Yandex, Yandex News, Yandex Zen and others.

The following table demonstrates overall rates for the Central Asian states since they shaped the media domain in the region. As it can be seen from the table, Kyrgyzstan generates about 12,000 news articles, Uzbekistan about 6,000 and Tajikistan around 1,000 materials.

Country

Quantity of news

Quantity of transitions

Kazakhstan

43,304

10,288,099

Kyrgyzstan

11,951

729,405

Uzbekistan

5,987

503,661

Tajikistan

1,113

8,118

Table 1 – Data for Central Asian countries

According to the statistics, Kazakhstan generated 509,600 news articles along with 136,037,166 switches of Internet users from the World Wide Web to Kazakh sources.

Kazakhstan releases 40,000 news articles on average and about 10-11 million transitions (tables 1 and 2). Notable peak values of Kaznet performance were due to the tragic events in Almaty and Karaganda, which took place in July 2018 and January 2019, respectively. The in-depth analysis of the statistical data shows that the first 2,000 news articles generate more than 95 percent of the transitions. Sometimes, the TOP-100 index of news materials attracts roughly 40 percent of the users.

Table 1

Table 2

The popularity of the Facebook social network in Kazakhstan is a well-known myth. It is easy to dispel the myth just by analysing the shares of media consumption in the country. On average, the share of Facebook social network media consumption constitutes less than 5 percent (table 3), whereas the main pillar of Kazakh media market is represented by the Google searching system with a share of 80 percent. The social networks of Kazakhstan serve more like communication tools for people rather than a media content exchange platform. Moreover, well-known applications like Telegram and WhatsApp also represent a serious competition to the social networks in the communication domain. Unfortunately, the politicisation of Facebook in Kazakhstan is extraordinarily high and sometimes borders on dangerous tension.

Table 3

Internet portals like tengrinews.kz and zakon.kz with an 80-percent share of transitions from external links, serve as the main providers of information.

The last two years are notable for the rise of popularity of the regional online mass media that boomed in the dimension of users' attraction. Regional new media constitute 48 percent of the overall quantity of media resources. The websites of the state's various regions demonstrate remarkable growth and popularity among their users. The media consumption of the country is reflected in the interest in local news articles.

The growth of media content in the state language is also undoubted. On certain days and weeks, the articles written in the Kazakh language are consistently in the lead among the most popular news.

As a result, we can say that the media space of Kazakhstan stands on its own two feet, since users actively use information online services and the audience itself instantly reacts to the occurring events not only in the country, but in the whole world.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Shavkat Sabirov – President of the legal entity Internet Association of Kazakhstan. He graduated from Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radioelectronics. He has more than 25 years of work experience in the IT sector in addition to vast knowledge and experience in the regulation of the Internet and cyber security, telecommunications and Internet business domains. He also managed the work of the transport information system in Almaty (Asu-GorodGAI). Sabirov, while working as an executive of the expert commission, participated in the establishment of the information and analysis system of the committee of financial monitoring of the Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan and creation of the system of electronic money. Currently, Sabirov is supervising the analytical system of online statistics of new media in Kazakhstan.

Sabirov acts as an expert in the international events of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, United Nations, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and RIPE (Réseaux IP Européens) Network Coordination Centre, along with the work of the executive of the accredited organisation to the United Nations Economic and Social Council with special consultative status. He is currently the member of the National Scientific council to the Government of Kazakhstan and the member of Public Council on issues of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Created at : 13.06.2019, 12:00, Updated at : 13.06.2019, 12:00