Ali Hasanov: Azerbaijan - one of few countries to abandon state regulation of media

Thu 12 Sep 2019 07:49 GMT | 11:49 Local Time

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Azerbaijan is one of the few countries in the region and the world that, in 1998, abolished the Ministry of Press and Information and clearly abandoned state regulation of the media, Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan for Public and Political Issues Ali Hasanov said at the annual meeting of the World Association of Press Councils held in Baku, Trend reports.

Hasanov noted that as a result of the great importance attached by Azerbaijan to freedom of speech and expression at the state level, there are no restrictions on broadcasting transnational media in the country, citizens freely use such social networks as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram.

"Today, the media operating in Azerbaijan freely and independently investigate the events in society, the policies pursued by the state, as well as the processes taking place in the world, reflect on their pages the opinions of citizens, bringing them to the attention of the authorities. The media are free to collect any information, criticize or support the policies pursued by the authorities," Hasanov said while reminding the historical path that the Azerbaijani national press has traveled to the present.

“Presently, total number of media outlets officially registered in Azerbaijan exceeds 5,000,” he noted. “In terms of the number of media outlets, Azerbaijan is at the forefront among the countries of the CIS and Eastern Europe. Up to 40 daily, more than 200 weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines, etc. are published, about 300 information and analytical websites, about 20 news agencies operate in the country, about 100 mass media outlets operate in the regions and districts of the country. There are 11 republican, 4 satellite, 13 regional and 17 cable TV channels, 25 Internet TV channels and 14 radio channels in Azerbaijan. The Public Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, established in 2005 in the country, is working successfully.”

Hasanov added that there are more than three million users of social networks in the country, which is a very big figure for a country with a population of 10 million people.

“As a result of the importance attached to social networks at the state level, the official profiles of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and most state structures, separate officials, are opened in the country,” he said. “The authorities regularly express their attitude to issues raised in social networks, treat the internet as one of the sources of information and use it. From observations and analysis, it becomes clear that in recent years social networks have been trying to expand the possibilities of influencing public opinion. But here it’s necessary to note that along with the traits that positively characterize the role of social networks, negative trends also appear.”

“On one hand, social networks open up new perspectives in ensuring freedom of expression and opinion,” Hasanov noted. “On the other hand, sometimes the mutual influence between social networks and human rights creates undesirable situations. Thus, there are cases of humiliation of honor and dignity of people in social networks, and this means violation of human rights. Unfortunately, such negative cases are sometimes found in the activities of transnational media as well.”

“The positive point associated with broadcasting transnational media structures in the country is that the population has the opportunity to receive up-to-date information about the processes taking place in the world,” Hasanov said. “The negative point is that sometimes under the influence of various political circles or lobby groups, transnational media structures are trying to manipulate public opinion, disseminate biased, subjective information in contradiction to principles such as objectivity and impartiality.”

Summarizing the above mentioned, it can be concluded that the Azerbaijani government considers ensuring freedom of speech and press, the development of the mass media outlets as one of the main directions of state policy, he noted.

“Azerbaijan is one of the few countries in the region and the world that abolished the Ministry of Press and Information in 1998 and abandoned state regulation of the media,” he said. “The Azerbaijani state transferred this issue to the country’s journalists, who at their general meetings created the Press Council, which is a single public organization of journalists. The Press Council is the main partner of the state in the direction I am talking about.”

“This structure, acting as the sole guarantor of the public interests of the country’s journalists, is successfully functioning, and today’s meeting is a clear proof of this,” he added. “An indicator of this is that representatives of the majority of press councils from different countries gathered in Baku today to discuss the problems and success of transnational journalism and free media outlets.”

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