25 IFEX MEMBERS CALL FOR AZERI GOVERNMENT TO RESCIND DECISION TO BAN FOREIGN RADIO STATIONS

December 6th, 2008
Twenty-five members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange have signed an appeal that will be sent to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

In the appeal, which was organized upon the initiative of the Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety, the signatories express concern about plans to cease the broadcasts of Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL) and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) on national radio frequencies (FM radio) in Azerbaijan.
 
"BBC, VOA and RFE/RL enrich the public debate in the country by providing citizens and residents with professional news and critical information from both Azerbaijan and the rest of the world," it is written in the appeal. "In addition, the three radio stations offer talk shows and educational programming crucial to promoting a public dialogue that Azerbaijan so desperately needs as it continues down its chosen path of socio-economic integration. [..] We call on the government not to cease the broadcasts of BBC, VOA and RFE/RL on national frequencies and appeal to authorities to work towards finding another viable solution that will ensure that the Azerbaijan media landscape is as diverse and pluralistic as possible."
 
(The entire appeal can be viewed here: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99023/.)
 
In addition to signing the appeal, many IFEX members and other organizations have expressed plans to participate in IRFS' web banner campaign. IRFS is calling on local and international organizations and mass media institutions to join in support of keeping VOA, RFERL and BBC on FM Radio in Azerbaijan.
 
IRFS created a web banner in both Azeri and English that reads "Free societies have free radio stations. We support keeping VOA, RFERL and BBC on fm radio in Azerbaijan." IRFS asks that organizations display this web-banner on their sites throughout the month of December as the government of Azerbaijan makes its final decision about the fate of BBC, VOA, and RFERL. The web banners are available on IRFS' website, at http://www.irfs.az/component/option,com_datsogallery/Itemid,30/func,viewcategory/catid,159/.