Azerbaijan: Senator Lugar joins protest of planned foreign radio shutoff (updated again).

Posted: 23 Dec 2008   Print   Send a link
"U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has written to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in an effort to persuade Baku not to move forward with the removal of RFE/RL, Voice of America, and the BBC from the country's national airwaves. While commending Aliyev on a number of recent initiatives, Lugar said he was 'disappointed' to hear of the October announcement by the country's National Radio and Television Council, which said that, according to Azerbaijani law, foreign radio stations would have to stop broadcasting on local frequencies as of January 1." RFE/RL Watchdog, 9 December 2008.
     "U.S. ambassador in Azerbaijan Anne Derse said to journalists that she was sure that the issue would be solved positively. 'The broadcasting of radio stations via internet is not a way out,' Derse said." Trend News Agency, 10 December 2008.
     "It should be noted that most international organizations, including OSCE, CE and others, criticize possible halt of radio stations in Azerbaijan and have appealed to the country's leadership with a request to prevent it." Today.Az, 10 December 2008.
     "If the Azeri government succeeds in suffocating independent media, the 'new generation of export routes' [columnist Stanley] Weiss envisions will emerge in a society that lacks the rule of law and basic accountability. That's bad for business, bad for American interests and bad for the people of Azerbaijan." Jeffrey Gedmin, president of RFE/RL, letter to the International Herald Tribune, 15 December 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "The initiative to stop the broadcasting of foreign radio stations in the territory of Azerbaijan by the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Azerbaijan is quite legal, Ali Hasanov, the head of the Public and Political Department of the President’s Administration told. ... Hasanov supports Council’s decision and cited an example the Turkish TRT channel, which is being broadcasted in Azerbaijan through the interstate agreement. The final decision will be made at the meeting of the National Council on Dec.25." Trend News Agency, 18 December 2008.
     Update: "Recent government threats to stop issuing broadcast licenses to foreign media, including the BBC and Voice of America, is further evidence of crumbling press freedom here and may reflect the country's shift away from Washington in favor of Russia, experts say. ... The popularity of foreign broadcasters has skyrocketed in recent years, and the threats to remove them from the airwaves have sparked grass-roots opposition campaigns on the Web. One listener recently wrote to Radio Liberty, 'I was not this upset when my father died.'" Christian Science Monitor, 23 December 2008.