EU Baku office: Govts must not control media

Countries must not control or intervene in media activity in democratic societies, political affairs adviser to the EU representation in Azerbaijan, Andrey Valentinov, has said.

Establishment of new media outlets should be supported in the country by adopting relevant laws, Valentinov said at a conference Tuesday organized by the British embassy in Azerbaijan, the OSCE Baku office, CE and EU representative offices in Baku and Azerbaijani media watchdog Press Council.

The EU representative also urged the authorities not to rush while enforcing new laws and regulations, but to take into account the opinions of media outlets.

Koray Targay, the head of the OSCE Office in Baku, said that at present, the requirements associated with the media have changed as people prefer to receive information from online media.

``The OSCE`s Baku office contributes to the development of online media in Azerbaijan,`` Targay said. ``Several projects have been implemented since 2011, and courses have been organized for journalists. Freedom of speech and press are the OSCE`s basic principles.

``Earlier, news could be received through radio and television. Today, this information is not enough. Today we get full information through online media more rapidly,`` Targay said.

Arastun Mehdiyev, the Presidential Administration`s deputy head of social and political issues, said that Azerbaijan`s legislation currently does not envision state assistance to online media, but such support may be provided in the future.

``Probably, when these issues are considered in the future, attention will be paid to the issue of state support to Internet media in the process of forming the legislative framework,`` Mehdiyev said.

According to Press Council chairman Aflatun Amashov, there are 40 daily newspapers, 200 online newspapers, nine TV channels, one satellite TV channel, 14 regional TV channels, 20 Internet radio stations and about 40 news portals in Azerbaijan.

He said newspapers have benefited from online media development. Each newspaper has its own Web page which is regularly updated, Amashov said.

He said further that currently 65 per cent of Azerbaijani residents use the Internet. 35 per cent of them are regular Internet users. Approximately one million people in the 9 million nation use the popular social networking website www.facebook.com. The country has about 20 Internet TV channels used by 100,000 people. There are about 2,000 Web blogs, which are served by about 30 providers, Amashov said.