The Law on Media has been signed. What's in store for the media?

Baku/09.02.22/Turan: On February 8, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev approved the media law, adopted by the country's parliament on December 30 last year. The Head of State signed a Decree on the application of the Media Law and the regulation of a number of issues arising from it.

The document provides for the creation of a media register. The National Council on Television and Radio (NTRC) will also be abolished. It will be replaced by the Audiovisual Council. In addition, the President instructed the Cabinet of Ministers to prepare and submit for consideration by the President a draft law that defines measures of administrative responsibility for violations of the Law on Media.

It should be noted that the new media law was criticized by many journalists and representatives of international organizations, since it establishes strict state regulation of this sphere. The norms of the law are not clearly defined and allow for an extended and arbitrary interpretation. Despite the fact that the law clearly contradicts the Constitution of the country and the International Convention on Human Rights, nevertheless it was signed by the President. All these shortcomings of the law were noted in the appeals of the journalistic community and international organizations to the President of Azerbaijan with a request to return the law for revision. The law is currently being studied by the Venice Commission.

What should journalists and media expect now?

Mehman Aliyev, head of the Turan news agency, answers these and other questions in the Difficult Question program.

According to him, it would be a mistake to think that this law covers only the media. Media is a broad concept that includes means of communication, ways of transmitting information, as well as the environment they form (media space).

“Therefore, the adopted law, in fact, is a law on the information society. This means that it covers not only the media, but also extends to the whole society, i.e.  every citizen who produces and distributes mass information (audio, video, text) is subject to this law,” Aliyev said.

In his opinion, practically all the media in the country are taken under the control of the authorities, financed, managed by the authorities and act in full accordance with their interests.

“The policy of establishing state control over the media began in an open form in 1998 and about 10 years ago this process was completed. In response to this policy, a parallel, alternative media space, which is called social networks, has appeared in the country, formed by society,” the journalist said.

According to him, the activity of citizens in social networks to a certain extent played the role of public control over the government, and this seriously worried the authorities. Therefore, in order to limit the activity of social networks, the media law was adopted, the Media Development Agency (MEDİA), the Audiovisual Council was established.

“The authorities seek to intimidate society, force people to self-censorship. The activities of the authorities will develop in this direction,” Mehman Aliyev said. –0-

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