Not Rosy Discussions on National Press Day

Baku / 07.22.19 / Turan: The presentation of journalistic awards named after H. Zardabi and the discussion of the problems of modern Azerbaijani journalism were devoted to the event "Press Day a year later: from July to July" July 22 in the conference hall of the Hilton hotel.

It was organized by the Union of Journalists of Azerbaijan (AJB), Baku Press Club, and Turan News Agency. The meeting was timed to the National Press Day.

The event, which was attended by independent journalists, media experts, began. It all started with the presentation of the award named after Hasan Bey Zardabi - the founder of the national press of Azerbaijan.

"For three years we have not awarded the Zardabi Award. Because we believed that in the current difficult conditions for a free press it was not necessary to hand out awards. But now we are getting out of the whirlpool," Elchin Shikhlinsky, head of the AJB, chief editor of Ayna Zerkalo, said before awarding the awards.

Noting that national TV channels are still far from the standards of modern broadcasting, at the same time, he pointed out some positive developments.

"Positive trends have been noted on public television and the ARB channel. At least there are attempts to change for the better and this should be continued. The management of the TV channels is turning to the audience, which is in search of objective information, said Shikhlinsky.

Among the positive trends in the media field, he called the release from prison of Turan Agency"s director Mehman Aliyev and the journalists Rauf Mirkadyrov and Mehman Huseynov.

Zardabi"s awards were awarded to OTV employee Orhan Fikretoglu, representative of ARB-Aran regional TV channel Rena Ibrahimova, independent journalist Kamran Mahmudov, Turan"s editor Shahin Hajiyev and investigative journalist Dilgam Ahmed.

Further, the director of Turan Agency, Mehman Aliyev, presented the report "Press Day a year later: from July to July", where 25 articles of journalists and experts on the situation in the media field, published over the last year, were collected.

He noted that over the past period a number of studies have been prepared to prevent negative processes. As an example, he pointed out the problem of illegally blocking websites and preventing this process.

Khalid Agaliyev, an expert in media law, spoke about the state of legislation, criminal cases against journalists, and problems with access to information.

He noted that the amendments to the legislation obliged state structures to post information on their financial status on their websites. However, in overwhelming cases, the requirement of the law is not respected.

During this time, the courts rendered decisions on criminal penalties for publications against three journalists.

Total court cases were held against 29 journalists.

13 times the journalists appealed to the courts for not providing them with information, but no trial was won. Courts take the side of the defendants.

"There are arrested journalists. Some of them have been imprisoned for long. However, I hope that in future years there will be no journalists left in prisons," said Agaliyev.

Media expert Alesker Mammadli said that online media is rapidly replacing traditional media. Even local television cannot catch the pulse of the public agenda, but only deals with propaganda.

Mammadov pointed out the practice of blocking websites in contradiction with international law.

"Today 60 resources are blocked, but only in respect of 7 of them there are court decisions. The rest are blocked by the decision of some officials. This causes damage to the image of Azerbaijan. In terms of media freedom, we occupy the lowest places in all ratings. The relevant authorities should think about this," said Mammadov.

Media expert Gulu Magerramli focused on the lack of public interest in local TV channels.

"There is no pluralism or free thinking on TV, only propaganda is conducted, and there is a problem of journalistic professionalism. Therefore, people watch mostly foreign TV channels," said Maharramli.

Political analyst Nasimi Mammadli spoke about the reasons for the advancement of social media in the formation of public opinion.

According to him, state control over the media has led to their devaluation as reliable sources of information. As a result of this policy, the audience is actually forced to access social networks. And the long-term defamation of opponents of the government through traditional pro-government media has led to a response in social networks. And in the information field, as a result of such a policy, the language of hostility and aggression began to dominate.

Mehman Aliyev also touched upon the economic foundations of the media.

According to the State Statistics Committee, in 2018 the media advertising market reached only 7 million 742 thousand manat. Of this amount, 6.9 million manat accounted for television, 300 thousand and 400 thousand each for radio and online media, and only 1,000 manat for the print press.

The volume of the advertising market in GDP was 0.008%, which is one hundred times lower than the internationally accepted norm.

As shown by statistical data, the media is unable to ensure its existence and is funded mainly by illegal means by the authorities.

"Such a depressing situation does not create conditions for the development of free media and the situation is getting worse every year," said the director of Turan.

The head of the journalist association Yeni Nesil (New Generation) Arif Aliyev noted that without changing the current disastrous policy in the field of media, they will finally die out as information products unclaimed by society.

"In Georgia, only the television advertising market is 18 times larger than the total volume of the media market in the whole of Azerbaijan. In Azerbaijan, the media has been turned into a scapegoat and the situation does not change," said Aliyev. -06D--


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