New bill to give impetus to development of media responsibility
By Ayya Lmahamad
At the end of the last century, the press took an active part in the path leading to Azerbaijan’s independence, and after the restoration of state independence, it developed as an integral part of a democratic society.
After the 44-day war, the new realities in the relationship between the state and society, the media and society in the country created a need for updating the legislative framework in this sphere.
In Azerbaijan, media legislation was adopted 20 years ago, and although it was subjected to some changes, it still did not cover all of the media spheres that exist now in the country.
The new draft law “On the media” defines the general rules for the organization of media activities, the legal and economic basis of these activities, as well as the receipt, preparation, transmission, production ad distribution of mass information. The document consists of nine chapters and 78 clauses.
The new law will play an important role in eliminating a number of shortcomings that exist today in the media sphere. It provides for all the details, from raising the level of professionalism of journalists to solving their social problems.
Professional media's interests
Deputy Director-General of Trend International News Agency Sahil Karimli said that the new law fully meets the interests of professional media.
Noting that the law regulating the media sphere was adopted in the late 90s and did not correspond to today’s realities, he underlined that there was a great need for innovation.
“I think that the law 'On the media' is progressive. It is a very important document for the further development of the press in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a legal state, we are constantly integrating into the modern world. In this case, the media, which is considered the fourth power, should be renewed and developed according to the modernization of the country. A new law was necessary for this purpose,” he said.
He stressed that the new law is quite advanced, noting that almost every point is based on the realities of the modern world and international conventions.
“On the other hand, the new law is not for those who are engaged in racketeering journalism in the country, who want to drag the press into chaos. It is clear that the new law will play an important role in bringing order and professionalism to the media. The arbitrariness reigning in the press will be eliminated. We are fully confident that every professional, patriotic member of the press, who thinks about the interests of Azerbaijan and the people, supports the new bill and has great hopes for it,” he said.
Karimli added that in the past years, Azerbaijan’s legislative framework got completely updated and it is in line with international standards.
More professional mission
MP Sevil Mikayilova noted that ensuring freedom of speech and pluralism of opinion is a fundamental principle of any democratic society. The MP believes that the new media law will create conditions for further strengthening of these principles in society and the implementation of the mission to provide information in line with more professional, generally accepted rules.
She noted that the rapid development of information technology and its widespread use in the media sphere made legal reforms in this regard inevitable.
Speaking about Article 13 of the law, which regulates relations in the sphere of copyright protection, she underlined that this will give an impulse to the professional and dynamic development of journalism, and encourage media to provide original content.
Mikayilova also underlined that the bill is based on fairly democratic principles, does not limit the activities of the media and allows for more flexible licensing. The MP added that strengthening information security and the development and stimulation of media activities are the main directions of the new law.
"The dynamically developing media sector always faces new challenges, the emergence of information technology, a new generation of media requires a new approach to regulating relations in this sphere. This will play an important role," she said.
Speaking about the significance of the new law “On the media”, a member of the Press Council board, Vugar Rahimzade, told local media that the bill will play an important role in regulating not only the printed media but also the electronic media and internet-television in the country.
"The laws 'On access to information', 'On state secrets', 'On advertising' - all this is reflected in this law, which will guide the Azerbaijani media and determine the principles of our media. The bill reflects the status of journalists, the status of editorial boards in general and many other issues," he added.
Azerbaijan Journalists Union Chairman Mushfig Alasgarli told local media that the new law creates an idea of the recognition of the legal status and structure of online media.
“Online media exists in Azerbaijan for around 20 years, but there was no legal regulation of the media. The adoption of the new law will eliminate this gap,” he said.
Mushfig Alasgarli stressed that the new law provides for the introduction of a single register, which is very important.
“Another important point of the draft law is the recognition of the rights of freelance journalists. All this gives grounds to say that the new law 'On the media' is a progressive document that will give impetus to the development of media responsibility,” he said.
The Media Development Agency and the Press Council commenting on the bill stressed that it was prepared to take into account international norms, principles and progressive world experience. It was noted that in the development of individual norms of the document similar laws of different countries were studied, the norms corresponding to the advanced standards were formed under the social order of society, advanced standards and the experience of foreign countries.
“The draft law does not contradict either Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, or Article 50 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan and meets the requirements of the relevant provisions and defines the mechanism for their protection,” they noted.
The formation of a new legal framework for media creates a favourable basis for media activity in a new format based on a new concept. Today, healthy journalism in Azerbaijan requires establishing media discipline, restoring the rule of law, developing professional journalism, and restricting the activities of those who intrude into this sphere and discredit journalism.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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