INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

October 4th, 2011
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the National TV and Radio Council (NTRC) head Nushiravan Maharramli’s idea that the Internet TVs need to be regulated by government.

IRFS assesses it as an interference in freedom of expression.
To note, NTRC head Maharramli told the journalists that Internet TV, being one of the broadcasting types,  should be regulated by the state. He said that the regulation of online TVs is not only discussed in Azerbaijan, it’s also a discussion topic of other world countries. “The CoE member countries came together for this issue, but failed to find a common position. Azerbaijan wants to learn from the European experience in this issue. Azerbaijan will adopt whatever decision is adopted by the CoE members regarding internet broadcasting,” Maharramli added. Besides, NTRC head voiced similar ideas in his 23 June 2010 interview to Sharg newspaper, saying that irrespective of its form of broadcasting, television should be regulated as it is a sphere of operation. To add, earlier, in the Board meeting of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies, the Minister said that the operation of online Tvs and other commercial structures should be in line with laws and they should get licens, otherwise their broadcasting will be suspended.
IRFS notes that any decision to regulate the Internet TVs by state would be another blow on freedom of expression in a period where there’s no independent TV channel in the country; the frequencies for radio stations are given to pro-governmental bodies; freedom of expression is violated; and the number of youth activists and journalist for expressing their opinions freely is growing.
IRFS believes that utterance of ‘a need for governmental regulation of Internet TVs‘ by the head of National TV and Radio Council which announces limited tenders despite existence of TV and Radio frequencies in the country, shows that the the authorities are willing to impose state control on online TVs as well.
IRFS states that governmental regulation of internet TVs operating in Azerbaijan would be violation of Article 47 of the Constitution of Azerbaijani Republic (freedom of speech and expression) and Article 10 (Freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
IRFS calls on Azerbaijani authorities to refrain from any decision to regulate the Internet TVs and further pressures of freedom of expression.