INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT ON RESULTS OF COMPETITION ON OPENING OF CULTURAL TV CHANNEL

October 27th, 2010
Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) condemns announcement of Azerbaijan Television and Radio Broadcasting Closed JSC as the winner of competition on opening of new Medeniyyet (Culture) TV channel under the 06 September decision of National TV and Radio Council.

AzTV was the only participant of the competition.
Namely, the competition announced on 30 July 2010 on opening of a cultural TV channel, lasted from August 4th to September 4th. However, the number of the applicants was less than three, so the NTRC declared the competition invalid on September 6th.  NTRC then reopened the competition to run from September 7th to October 7th. Again, there was only one applicant: AZTV. This time, NTRC announced AZTV as the winner. This decision was made under the requirements of Article 15.5  of Azerbaijani Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting, along with Article 2.1.10 of the competition regulations. The latter regulation gives NTRC the authority to issue a special license to a competitor for television and radio broadcasting if the number of competitors is less than three in the second competition.
On 18 July, 2008 NTRC announced Azerbaijan Television and Radio Broadcasting Closed JSC was as the winner of competition on opening of “Idman (Sport)” TV channel.
IRFS notes that although AzTV have been a Closed JSC fore 4 years, all its shares belong to the state. IRFS also notes that the head and even deputy heads of the Company are appointed under Presidential decree. Current AzTV Head Airf Alishanov and deputy head Vagif Agayev were appointed under Presidential decree on 16 August, 2006. Therefore IRFS supposes that expansion of a channel financed from state budget and in fact belonging to the government, is unacceptable.
IRFS recalls that one othe Azerbaijan’s commitments before the Council of Europe is removal of state-run AzTV. Unfortunately, this commitment has not been fulfilled yet. As a result of NTRC’s granting permission to AzTV to open “Idman (Sport)” in 2008 and “Medeniyyet (Culture)” in 2010, the number of state-run channels reached three.
 Considering the aforementioned, IRFS calls on Azerbaijani government, as well as NTRC to annul the results of the competition and announce a new tender. IRFS calls on local and international community to address similar appeals to the government and NTRC, and to impose necessary sanctions at such a time when Azerbaijan not only ignores its commitments, but also there is also regress in the spheres achieving some development.