The changes oblige foreign TV channels to have registered representative offices.

Beginning January 1, 2017, changes to the Kazakhstan Broadcasting Law will take effect that will apply to the operation of foreign TV and radio channels in Kazakhstan.

In particular, owners of foreign TV and radio channels will be required to register their foreign entities’ representative offices to continue to carry out their activities in Kazakhstan. This change comes by way of a procedure established by the laws on state registration of legal entities and record (accounting) registration of branches and representative offices (Article 18-1.2). A representative office is not a separate legal entity. As a matter of practice, establishing a representative office may entail a number of implications, including those in terms of taxation and employment.

At the same time, foreign TV or radio channels in Kazakhstan that are fully or partially owned by the state (or affiliates thereof) will only be permitted to operate by establishing a legal entity in Kazakhstan where the foreign legal entities’ interest in the charter capital does not exceed 20% (Article 18-1.3). This means that registering a separate legal entity will be required.

The changes also cover broadcasting and/or rebroadcasting of foreign TV and radio channels. Starting in 2017, such broadcasting and/or rebroadcasting will be carried out on the basis of contracts that a broadcasting operator and a foreign TV or radio company or registered representative office of a foreign legal entity enter into (the law currently in effect requires such contracts to be concluded between a broadcasting operator and a foreign TV or radio company) (Article 24.1).