As of July 1, singers in Uzbekistan will need to get permission from the state-run performers’ regulator before they are allowed to post their videos on YouTube. Anybody found in violation of the rule could face losing their lucrative performing license.
Rumors of this rule had been circulating for some days on social media and were last week confirmed by RFE/RL’s Uzbekistan service, Radio Ozodlik.
“This is being done to prevent the dissemination of music videos that do not correspond to national traditions and the mentality of the Uzbek people,” a representative for Uzbekkonsert told Ozodlik.
Prior to the YouTube rule being announced, domestically produced music videos had become object of much public discussion. In a talkshow aired on June 20, guests rounded in particular on a song called “Sakramento” by Munisa Rizayeva.
One participant of the talkshow, cultural commentator Fakhritdin Ismatov, complained to EurasiaNet.org that the video was made in slavish imitation of Spanish culture — not particularly easy to detect in the actual clip — and that many of the Uzbek words in the song have been inappropriately Hispanicized. This unbridled submission to foreign values notwithstanding, the video has to date been viewed more than 3.7 million times.
Dildora Nishanova, a show business journalist, told EurasiaNet.org that there is every chance that Sakramento will no longer the shown on local television. This kind of policy could prove ruinous for artists, since videos online and on TV constitute a valuable form of exposure.
“Making music videos is an expensive business. The cost of one video ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. Pulling the videos could ruin the artists. How can you forbid a video with just the stroke of a pen?” Nishanova said.
Effective bans of videos from the small screen are already commonplace. On June 15, for example, Uzbekkonsert issued a ruling for Otabek Mutalhadzhaev’s “Bombay-Mumbai” to no longer be shown on the My5 and Milliy TV, two popular music TV stations, for its nonsensical content. The reasoning on that one, as outlined on Qalampir.uz, appears remarkably to have stemmed from Mutalhadzhaev’s inability to distinguish Bombay from Mumbai (they are, in fact, the same city).
Another way that performers can fall foul of the rules is by being excessively complimentary of the president.
Dilfuza Ismoilova must have thought she was onto a winner when, earlier this year, she released a song dedicated to Shavkat Mirziyoyev under the flamboyantly ingratiating title “May The Sultan Of This Beautiful Land Prosper.” Alas for Ismoilova, as RFE/RL reported, Uzbekkonsert subsequently ruled that "dedicating clips to certain individuals, to the activities of heads of state...is unethical.” As a result, the video for the song was yanked off YouTube.