TV Channels Set High Prices for Paid Airtime of Pre-Referendum Campaign

August 30th, 2016

TV channels and print and online media outlets operating in Azerbaijan have publicised the fees charged for paid airtime offered for campaigning related to the September 26 referendum on amendments to the national Constitution.

Ichtimai (Public) Television offers 5-minute segments of airtime for campaigning (the segment may be 3 or 4 minutes long at different times of the day) and charges between 20-50 AZN for every second. On Ichtimai Radio, each campaign segment is 4 minutes long and each second costs between 7-25 AZN.

Lider TV charges 80-200 AZN for every minute depending on the time of the day.

Khazar TV has set a rate of 3000-8000 AZN for a 5-7 minute segment.

Media expert Alasgar Mammadli has commented that despite numerous appeals to make changes in the country’s legislation, no price ceiling is applied to paid airtime of political campaigning. As a result, TV channels and print media set astronomical prices.
Mammadli added that ITV, which is fully funded from the state budget, charges 180,000 AZN for one hour of paid airtime during prime-time compared to Khazar TV’s rate of 144,000 AZN per hour.

The pre-referendum campaign will kick off on September 3 and will be stopped on September 25, at 8:00am.

Background: Central Election Commission has registered only “New Azerbaijan”, “Municipality” and “Civil Society” campaign groups. Amid recent arrests and pressures, REAL Movement opted out of participation in the September 26 referendum. Musavat Party’s “Republic” initiative group has not been registered due to some of their collected signatures being deemed invalid. The referendum on amendments to the Constitution in Azerbaijan will be held on September 26. The Draft Referendum Act stipulates establishment of the posts of first vice-president and vice-presidents of Azerbaijan. It also extends the term of office of the president from 5 years to 7 years. Minimum age requirements for the president and parliamentarians are removed. Besides, the president is granted the power to dissolve the parliament.