Baku/17.11.22/Turan: In accordance with the new law "On Mass Media", on October 14, the media register began to operate. Although many of the sites that applied for registration have already received a positive response, the Media Development Agency (MEDIA) has denied several sites. Some time ago, the agency reported that the operating media must apply to the agency within six months from the date of the start of the register in accordance with paragraph 78.3 of the law "On Media".
The issue of non-compliance of the activities of print and online media entities with the law is challenged in court if, in accordance with Article 62.2 of the law, an official application for registration has not been submitted to MEDIA or the information indicated in this application is not true.
The heads of some sites that have already applied for registration in the Media Registry but were denied, believe that the responses to these refusals are not objective. The head of the 24saat.org site, Vugar Gurjanly, believes that the reason for the refusal is not related to the site's activities, but is simply aimed at disabling some media resources.
According to him, MEDİA made a decision to refuse registration of 24 saat.org. "Our site meets all the criteria. The site has two domains - 24saat.org and az.24saat.org, because our 24saat.org domain is blocked in Azerbaijan, despite the court decision. Therefore, so that readers can read our site az.24saat .org we got the domain up and running.”
The head of the site noted that at the first application for registration, it was left without consideration, the deadline for which was postponed. “The second time I applied for both domains, I was told that the site had no succession and therefore my registration was denied.”
But, he says, there was a lot of news on the site at the time he applied. "The site works in five languages - Azerbaijani, Turkish, Russian, English and German. For example, 865 messages were published during the period from September 1 to September 5, and according to Google Analytics, daily access to the site these days is 10-15 thousand" .
The head of the site believes that the reason for the refusal to register the media he leads is different. "This means that the sites they consider necessary are registered, and the rest are left out. We will challenge this decision in court."
Media rights expert Khalid Agaliyev told Radio Azatlyk that he considers it wrong to approach the issue from several sides. “Firstly, the rules established by law should apply to media outlets established after the adoption of this law, while media outlets that existed before the adoption of the law should be automatically included in the register if they so wish. Because it is a requirement of the Constitution. Seen from this aspect, the rules currently in force are unconstitutional.”
According to Agaliyev, when approaching the issue in a narrow, literal framework, in the light of the law "On Media", the refusal to be included in the register is legal. “The law establishes the conditions for inclusion in the register. One of these conditions is “continuity of activity.” The continuity of the media activity means that media outlets wishing to access the register must distribute at least 100 materials every week. Materials distributed as a product of other media, in including official press releases, are not included in the list of copyright 100 materials. That is, the media itself must create and distribute at least 100 materials every week. If it cannot do this, it is denied registration in the registry. This is a legal intervention, but it is an interference with editorial policy, a freedom that comes from a bad, low-quality law.”
The expert noted that the Media Development Agency incorrectly applied the law on the registration procedure in the register, allowing discrimination against the media. “I provide legal support to several media outlets that were refused, during the investigation it turned out that the decisions made during registration in the register are not justified. For example, 24saat.org, the regional newspaper Mingachevir Lights, was denied. The rationale given was the lack of business continuity. But upon closer inspection, we see that both media comply with this condition. But there is a site that included a total of 320 materials in a week, of which only 50 were created by the site itself. However, the agency registered this site, and two other media outlets that comply with the business continuity condition were denied.”
Agaliyev believes that if the local courts handle these disputes fairly, the agency's refusal decisions should be overturned. "If the local courts do not reverse these decisions, the European Court of Justice will consider this a serious violation of freedom of expression."
The Media Development Agency told Turan that, in accordance with Article 74.1.2 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan "On Media", the activities of persons applying for inclusion in the media register as media subjects must be continuous. “Article 60.5 of this law determines in which case the activity is continuous, and it is noted that its activity is considered continuous if the subject (editorial office) of the online media monthly for 20 (twenty) days, observing the requirements of articles 13.1 and 13.2 of this law and publishing at least 20 (twenty) information daily, with the exception of the information specified in Article 13.3 of this law."
The agency noted that in the applications of media subjects for inclusion in the media register, the existence of the grounds specified in paragraph 74.1 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On Media” and paragraph 6.5 of the “Rules for Maintaining the Media Register”, approved by Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated September 26, 2022 No. 1846, and according to the result, an appropriate decision is made. “At the moment, more than 160 applications have been received, about 100 entities are included in the register, a decision has been made to refuse 15 applications, about 40 applications are under consideration.”-021B-