Media registration has begun in Azerbaijan. What does it mean for freelance journalists?
Media registration in Azerbaijan
Registration of journalists and media outlets in a single register has been launched in Azerbaijan. The process will take six months, and follows on a law passed in February of this year. According to officials, if any publication fails to register within the specified time, its further activities will be decided in court.
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Head of the media registry service of the Media Development Agency (MEDİA) Jahangir Hasanli said that registration is done online through the reyestr.media.gov.az portal through the ASAN Login system.
The Media Development Agency was established by the Decree of the President of Azerbaijan on January 12 in order to implement the policy in the field of media development. The Media Law was adopted by Parliament on December 30, 2021 and approved by presidential decree on February 8, 2022.
Why is a media registry needed?
“The media registry is necessary to bring order to the media. The document issued by us does not testify to the journalistic profession of the holder, but only confirms his registration in the media registry,” Turan news agency quoted Hasanli as saying.
MEDİA Communications Director Saida Shafiyeva added that journalists who do not register will be able to work as before, receiving responses from any government agencies and sending requests. “The registry does not limit them in anything, being only an information base,” she said.
What will it give journalists?
Jahangir Hasanli noted that registration in the media registry itself is “attractive for journalists.”
Registered media workers will be able to receive preferential mortgage loans and other benefits.
“In the future, placement of state social advertising in media subjects, strengthening social security, improving the material support of these media and other benefits are being considered,” the official said.
Saida Shafiyeva clarified that this is a 4% preferential mortgage for the purchase of housing. Journalists not in the media registry will not have this opportunity.
What if you don’t register?
Hasanli stressed that lack of registration will not limit journalists in any way – temporarily.
Media expert, lawyer Alesker Mammadli said that according to the law, journalists working in unregistered media will not be registered.
To the question “what if the media do not register (do not have time, refuse to register for ideological reasons), or receive a refusal from MEDIA?” Shafiyeva replied that, according to the Law on Media, the legality of the work of media entities that have not applied for registration within six months will be considered in court.
According to Mammadli, these are rather strict requirements, and they will greatly complicate the life of journalists.
According to editor of the Azerbaijani edition of JAMnews Hussein Ismayilbayli, the requirement to register in the unified media registry does not bode well for independent media:
“It is possible that the MEDİA agency will simply refuse to register a single publication. Reasons can be found for this, if needed. And six months later, when the registration is completed, the court will simply declare this publication illegal. It will cease to exist.
To be honest, I do not see the advantages of this idea. What is promised to journalists in exchange for registration? Low interest mortgage. In other words, they want to bribe them not even with real money, but with the promise of some kind of virtual mortgage in the future.
I would also like to raise the issue of unified journalistic credentials. Their form was approved by the prime minister of the country himself! I don’t know where else the state regulates the activities of the media at such a high level. And imagine, journalists will have to pay 20 manats [about $12] for these certificates. MEDİA says that this is the price of making a certificate. Sorry, but a regular badge can’t cost that much. And could it not even be done for free?”
Media registration in Azerbaijan