TV channel closed in Azerbaijan
Late on July 18, the National TV and Radio Council (NTRC) of Azerbaijan temporarily suspended the broadcast of the local ANS TV channel in light of an appeal to the General Prosecutor’s Office. It turned out that on July 19 the TV channel will be suspending operation for one month.
As meydan.tv reported, the next day, state agency officials conducted an inspection in the building, while the TV channel’s staff were waiting for news outside. The employees assume that Vahid Mustafayev and Mirshahin Agayev, the heads of the TV channel, are now in the Prosecutor’s Office.
As the NTRC highlighted in its statement, “Having expressed solidarity with the Turkish people, the Azerbaijani community and civil society institutions strongly condemned the attempt to overthrow the legally elected government. However, the TV channel, ANS, took a position contradicting the spirit of brotherhood and strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Turkey, unleashing propaganda against the Turkish state and the government, expressing their support of Fethullah Gülen, an organizer of the coup in Turkey.
The Council believes the ANS TV reports and interviews portrayed the developments in Turkey as a staged show by the authorities,’ aiming to discredit the measures taken by the Turkish government.
One of the TV channel’s reporters interviewed Fethullah Gülen, a religious and public figure and one of the suspects in the attempted coup, in the USA. ANS was closed after this interview had been announced.
The Council admits that the decision was made at the Turkish Embassy’s request: “Turkish leadership, on behalf of its Embassy in Azerbaijan, has expressed deep concern over this fact and requested that the adequate measures be taken.
“Erdogan (the President of Turkey) controls 70% of TV broadcasting, and I have written that this information hegemony may play against the ruling party at any moment, and it has already played against them, says Natiq Jafarli, a politician and economist and member of the ReAL movement’s board. “It goes without mentioning that the closing of this TV channel is a very bad situation. It’s another example of the vulnerability of the state that is dependent on many factors.
“ANS is like a bride who has gone out of favor with the people around her: sometimes she is returned to her father’s home and then taken back again, Nijat Melikov, a journalist, wrote on his Facebook page.
ANS was subjected to governmental pressure on a number of occasions. The channel was fined on the demands of NTRC. This agency also insisted on closing some of its programs, expressing indignation over the anchors’ use of words. In November, 2006, the TV channel was deprived of its license and ceased broadcasting until early 2007. After returning back on the air, it started demonstrating a greater loyalty than it had previously.
“ANS greatly changed for the worse during those years, said Magerram Zeynalov, a journalist. “Earlier, when there were problems somewhere, the trees were cut down and the houses were demolished, ANS would appear and become ‘the nation’s voice’. This is no longer so. Nevertheless, even now, when I go somewhere, people ask: “Are you from ANS?”