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JOIN IFEX MEMBERS AND PROTEST AZERBAIJANI GOVERNMENT OUSTER OF INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTERS

If the Azeri authorities have their way, this New Year's Eve (31 December) will be the last time major international news organisations the BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA) will be broadcast on FM radio in Azerbaijan. Join the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and 24 other IFEX members in condemning the decision, and show your protest by adding a banner to your website.

In October, Azerbaijan National TV and Radio Council Chairperson Nushiravan Maharramli announced the decision as part of an ongoing process to eliminate all foreign broadcasters on national TV and radio frequencies in Azerbaijan. Russian and Turkish television broadcasters, as well as Russian and French radio stations, have lost their frequencies in Azerbaijan over the past few years.

"While Maharramli told the local press that this move will free up frequencies for local broadcast media initiatives, we know that there are plenty of empty frequencies in Azerbaijan. This is just an excuse to silence the foreign media," said IRFS.

Azeri officials say that BBC, VOA and RFE/RL will be invited to continue their broadcasts via satellite, Internet and cable - but few Azeris have this access. No satellite radio service is currently available in Azerbaijan and wireless Internet is not widespread or financially attainable for the vast majority of citizens.

IFEX members said that the three international news organisations add diversity and pluralism that is virtually non-existent elsewhere in the Azeri media. They "enrich the public debate in the country by providing citizens and residents with professional news and critical information from both Azerbaijan and the rest of the world," they said.

Join the members in appealing to the authorities to rescind the decision. IRFS is asking that you post a web banner over the month of December. Different banner sizes are available on the IRFS website: http://www.irfs.az/

There's also a Facebook group to join: http://tinyurl.com/6cytjk

See the IFEX member joint action here: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99023/

(3 December 2008)

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