M@trix is a youth-oriented TV program focusing on the latest developments in Internet and technology, reported by young journalists and reaching an audience of 13-25-year-olds across Central Asia.
“I first found out about Facebook through M@trix,” said Aktan Mazaipova, a student and viewer in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. “Afterwards, I figured it out myself and learned how to use the social network. I learned about Twitter and blogs through M@trix later.”
The program is currently the only TV show about IT issues on the air in Central Asia. It is broadcast by 39 local stations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan and available via satellite broadcast, YouTube, and the program’s website, www.matrix-ca.tv. A new episode is produced in both Russian and Kazakh each week and is translated into four other Central Asian languages (Kyrgyz, Tajik, Uzbek, and Turkmen).
While the show is witty and fast-paced, M@trix’s young reporters aren’t afraid to take on complex or controversial issues. Last year, when Kazakh authorities began limiting access to the popular blog-platform Live Journal and other web sites, the M@trix investigated how access to information is blocked and taught viewers to work around the barriers. Later, The M@trix team made an independent investigation into why the site was still being blocked, contacted state authorities and broadcast the results.
Other recent topics included how to protect computers and mobile phones from theft and ensure privacy online, the first-ever BarCamp in Uzbekistan, and disputes between Google and Kazakh authorities over search routing.
The show is produced in a studio at the Internews Kazakhstan office by a full-time crew of 13 young people, all of whom received their university education in journalism. “We work as a creative team, with a lot of fun, noisy brainstorming sessions, and occasionally a few tears,” says Vladimir Chsheglov, the longtime head producer of M@trix. “All the journalists spend a lot of time exploring the Internet, seeking out interesting stories and useful tips,” he says, and share them at weekly story development meetings.
The show’s popularity has grown steadily since its debut in 2009. A manager at Kazakhstan’s Channel 5 TV station said the broadcaster receives several requests a month for rebroadcasts of the show, and thousands of viewers watch episodes on YouTube and the web site each month.
M@trix is supported by Internews with funding from USAID.