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Posts Tagged ‘Reporters Without Borders’

One of the attractions of coming to Baku was the chance to add some new voices to the television airwaves given Azerbaijan’s reputation for restricting the media.  Now we’ve learned that, come January, there will be fewer voices on the radio. 

The BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, have lost their FM frequencies by order of Nushirvan Magerramli, Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council.  

Magerramli

Magerramli

“Azerbaijan is not interested in foreign radios on its national frequencies,” he said.  Locally-originating broadcasts will stop by the end of the year.  They could continue broadcasting by satellite or cable.  Magerramli pointed out that, over the past few years, Russian and Turkish-owned televisions stations, as well as French and Russian radio, also have lost their frequencies.

Terry Davidson, the spokesman for the US Embassy in Baku said he’s seeking clarification of the order.  He said foreign broadcasts contribute “greatly to enriching the space for public debate and understanding.”  The US Broadcasting Board of Governors, a quasi-independent agency which supports VOA and RFE/RL, said it “strongly objects” to the action.  One board member called it a “disturbing pattern” of action taken against private media ownership in Azerbaijan.  

However, Ilgar Mamedov, one of the Azerbaijan government’s most vocal critics, believes the decision could be reversed.”  I think this announcement is just a declaration of intentions and under the US pressure the Azerbaijani authorities will have to reject their decision.  But if they come to execute their threat, these radio stations will pass to short and medium waves like in the Soviet times and will continue broadcasting in Azerbaijan.”

Reporters Without Borders has sent a letter of appeal to President Ilham Aliyev, and asking him to intervene.

Stay tuned!

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