The oil rich country of Azerbaijan has been having issues with foreign broadcasts in recent months. Regular readers will probably recall several earlier posts of mine on the subject. The National Radio and Television Council of that country has repeatedly locked horns with Voice of America, among others.
Now with the beginning of 2009, it seems that things within those borders have escalated. According to the announcement made early New Year’s Day, foreign broadcasts may no longer be offered on local frequencies. Azerbaijan has effectively instituted an information clamp down, a move with distinct Orwellian overtones in my opinion. As Voltaire said, “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
In addition to putting an end to foreign broadcasts there are several other disturbing elements to the new strictures. More via United Press International:
Domestic TV and radio broadcasts in Azerbaijan will also now face more stringent regulations including being solely broadcast in Azerbaijani. The only broadcasts that will be allowed to be offered in other languages are news and educational broadcasts, which can feature foreign languages but must include Azerbaijani subtitles.
One last limitation on broadcast is a thirty-minute time limit on educational programs. Those of you who are counting can add one more positive to your list of reasons to love radio: it is so often a litmus test of freedom. Ask someone from Azerbaijan.