April 7th, 2008

During the OSCE press conference today to present the book “Media Self-Regulation Guidebook,” Freedom of Speech Defense Committee Chairperson Arzu Abdullayeva said, “There are no independent TV channels in Azerbaijan.

All TV channels are under the control of the government.” A. Abdullayeva said this about Public TV (Ictimai TV) as well, stating “Public TV didn’t justify our hopes; because this channel doesn’t operate freely.”
Public TV and Radio Broadcasting Company Chairman Ismayil Omerov responded to Abdullayeva’s statement, and noted that Public TV operates independently, and is not dependent either on the government or the opposition. “The government accuses me of working with opposition and the opposition accuses me of working with the government. I assure you that Ali Hasanov and Isa Gambar, Ali Ahmedov and Ali Karimli have the same attitude towards me,” said Omerov. It doesn’t bother me. I obey the principles considered in the law of Public TV Radio broadcasting, not them. I have never violated any law.”
“Yeni Musavat” Newspaper Editor-in-chief Rauf Arifoglu said, “Azerbaijani broadcasting is totally under the control of the government. I want to bring one fact to Omerov’s attention; for 13 days that the most famous imprisoned and free journalists of Azerbaijan have been hunger-striking, but nothing was broadcast about it. Public TV could have shown it was different.”
NTRC chairman Nushiravan Maharremli also expressed his opinion. “It is true that in a country like ours the situation of regulatory organs for media is difficult,” said Maharremli. “Now we shouldn’t make the situation difficult, but take mutual steps. We need to have a common denominator. Regarding Public TV, I can say it fulfills its functions better than we expected. I would like the problems related to TV independence to be solved. The opposition might not have the space they want in broadcasting. Second and third persons were represented there repeatedly if not first persons. Steps should be taken forward in this matter.”