12 Dec 2019 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 20 Jul 2016 n° 77/2016 Azerbaijan

Closure of Azerbaijani TV Channel

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Article 19 AEJ EFJ/IFJ Index
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Partner Article 19 AEJ EFJ/IFJ Index
On 19 July 2016, Azerbaijan’s National Television and Radio Council ordered the temporary closure of ANS TV, a pro-government private television channel. The order was in response to the channel’s plans to broadcast an interview with Turkish Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, of organising the failed coup attempt that took place in Turkey on 15 July 2016. The channel will be shut for at least one month. Gülen denies all involvement in the coup.

In an official statement, the National Television and Radio Council stated that the decision was made further to an appeal by the General Prosecutor on 18 July 2016. Its actions are in accordance with Article 11 of the Law on Television and Radio Broadcasting, which empowers the Council to take measures to prevent the propaganda of terrorism, violence, cruelty, discrimination on ethnic, racial and religious grounds. The Council justified its decision on the grounds of “avoiding provocations aimed at damaging the strategic partnership between Turkey and Azerbaijan and to prevent obvious promotion of terrorism “. Radio Free Europe has reported that the Turkish Embassy in Baku had expressed “deep concern” about the proposed broadcasting.

The National Council has also filed a lawsuit to the court demanding the withdrawal of ANS TV channel’s license, on the basis that the channel has violated provisions and conditions of the license (article 11.4.4. of Broadcasting Law) that prohibit “propaganda of terrorism, violence, cruelty” (article 32.0.5) and “incitement to mass unrest and terrorism” (article 23.2.5.). The head of the National Council said that the future of “ANS Broadcasting Media Company” is now in the competence of the judicial authorities.
Updates
19 Apr 2017
On 19 April 2017 the Supreme Court rejected the appeals filed by ANS TV against the termination of its TV and Radio activities.
29 Jul 2016
On 29 July 2016 the broadcasting licence of ANS TV was officially revoked. The company filed a cassation appeal.
Follow-ups
12 Dec 2019
In her report following her visit to Azerbaijan from 8 to 12 July 2019, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights regrets that no progress has been made regarding the protection of freedom of expression and calls on the authorities to bring the legislation and practice affecting Internet freedom in line with European standards.
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