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On 18 July 2008 the National Television and Radio Council (NTRC) declared that the “Azerbaijan Television and Radio Broadcasting Editorial Office” (AzTV) was the winner of the tender announced for opening of a sport television channel.
The local and international communities condemned the winning of AzTV and stated that this decision contradicted local legislation and the country’s commitments to the international community.
It was said in the assessment of the Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety that Azerbaijan’s government has been strengthening AZTV instead of revoking it after the country was accepted to the Council of Europe in 2001 and this contradicted its commitments.
The status of AZTV has been a disputed issue at various times. The Council of Europe pointed out that one of the obligations Azerbaijan had was to annul AZTV. When discussions were held to create a Public Television station instead of the AZTV2 (it ceased operating after presidential elections in 2003) television channel in 2004, the international community hoped that AZTV 1 and AZTV 2 would be turned into public televisions.
At that time, the Council of Europe issued the following statement: “The Council of Europe is concerned that the first (AZTV1) and the second (AZTV2) TV channels will not be included in the change of Azerbaijan’s State Television. Obligations undertaken by Azerbaijan consider the participation of two channels.” Regretfully, this obligation has not been implemented until now.
The decision allowing AZTV to open sport television channel opened the door for the creation of two state television channels.
Some of the funds allocated from the state budget for Azerbaijan Television and Radio Broadcasting Closed Shareholder Society are spent on the “Idman –Azerbaijan” television channel.
Four times more funds were allocated to the Azerbaijan Television and Radio Broadcasting Closed Shareholder Society from the state budget than to the Public television this year. 30 million AZN was allocated to AZTV, but only 8 million AZN was allocated to Public TV in 2010. IRFS has been conducting monitoring within the framework of the” Free Airwaves” project since March, 2009. The monitoring shows that although “Idman-Azerbaijan” is specialized in the sport area, it has been campaigning for the ruling party.
President Ilham Aliyev, former president Heydar Aliyev and country’s first lady, YAP member, Parliamentarian Mehriban Aliyeva are being praised via special clips, stories, and reportages related to sport.
In addition, all the programs dedicated to the anniversary of ex-president Heydar Aliyev’s death were broadcast on the AZTV and “Idman-Azerbaijan” channels.