INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY AND MEDIA RIGHTS INSTITUTE STATEMENT

November 13th, 2009
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety and the Media Rights Institute are against the allocation of 30,103,665 AZN (about $40 million dollars) for Azerbaijan TV and Radio Closed Shareholder Society (AzTV) in the state budget project of 2010.   

IRFS and MRI consider that AzTV operates without any legal-normative basis. Although AzTV was given permanent licensure as a state broadcaster, “Idman-Azerbaijan” (Sport-Azerbaijan), a TV channel that was created on this channel’s basis, was given only a five year license. On the other hand, when it comes to covering the elections free of charge, the administration states that AzTV is not a state channel, but a private one.    
IRFS and MRI state that although AzTV is financed through the tax money of Azerbaijani citizens, it does not serve public interests, but instead works to fulfill the interests of people who are represented in the administration. Specifically, although it is financed from the state budget, through its failure to allocate free air time to Azerbaijani citizens, AzTV does not provide viewers the ability to obtain important information. Conversely, Public TV (ITV) allocated more time to elections and it had greater opinion pluralism in comparison with AzTV (although ITV does not implement its duties completely either). ITVl was being considered for four times less than AzTV – 8,025,600 AZN.   
As a result of TV monitoring conducted by IRFS, it is evident that AzTV is in the worst situation among Azerbaijani TV channels. AzTV did not possess principles like balance, pluralism of ideas and political views, protection of the interests of different strata of the society and other alternative opinions in the news and other programs. This channel dedicated more than 94% of its news coverage to cover the administration positively.     
IRFS and MRI call on the members of parliament to object to the allocation of this amount for AzTV and to vote against this project when they discuss the budget of 2010.
IRFS and MRI recall that Azerbaijan made commitments to the Council of Europe in 2005 to annul state television and call on the government to implement this obligation.      
IRFS and MRI call on legislative and executive administrations to annul AzTV and “Sport –Azerbaijan” and open new Public TVs on the basis of these channels.