Azerbaijan Political Orientation
MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: 24.47 – Total Oppression
World Press Freedom Rank: Azerbaijan 151/180
Azerbaijan is ranked 151st out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders‘ 2023 World Press Freedom Index. RFS summarizes the media environment in Azerbaijan by stating that “President Ilham Aliyev has wiped out any semblance of pluralism, and since 2014, he has sought ruthlessly to silence any remaining critics.”
Media Ownership and Government Analysis
Ilham Aliyev succeeded his father, former President Heydar Aliyev, and has been in power since October 2003. With referendums, he extended the presidential term to seven years and appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyeva as vice president, ruling the country with his family. Therefore we can conclude power in Azerbaijan has been heavily concentrated on President Ilham Aliyev, and he maintains a tight grip over the media. For example, in 2022, Aliyev approved a new law on the media, which has been widely criticized as it “Gives The Government The Power To Decide What’s News.”
Furthermore, journalists are not safe in the country; according to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, in 2022, Azerbaijani Journalist Aytan Mammadova reported that a man attacked and threatened her (she was covering high profile murder trial). Another issue is the imprisonment of the journalists, such as Polad Aslanov (editor of news website Xeberman) and Afgan Sadygov (chief editor of Azel. tv), who are both currently imprisoned.
The broadcasting regulatory body is the Azerbaijan Press Council, which is in charge of media self-regulation, and The Audiovisual Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ACRA) (formerly The National Television and Radio Council (NTRC) is the electronic media regulator. Further, the government appoints members of the board.
TV is the most popular source of news information. Most broadcast media in Azerbaijan are state-owned, which dominates the media landscape, with AzTV and İctimai Television being popular.
When it comes to print media, the official state newspaper is “Azerbaijan,” and the Azerbaijan State News Agency (AZERTAC) is a major government-owned news agency.
In conclusion, Azerbaijani media faces several challenges through a state-controlled broadcasters’ monopoly over nationwide TV and radio news. Further, some private media outlets have ownership connections to political parties, while others lack transparency. Finally, concern for journalists’ safety results in self-censorship and decreased press freedom.
Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check
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