Washington, D.C., November 24, 2006 -- The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) expressed its dismay and concern at the sudden and forcible closure of Azerbaijan's first private radio and television company, ANS, which has carried shows produced by the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
BBG Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson condemned the action as one which will deprive the people of Azerbaijan of a much needed source of independent news and information.
"This is part of an unfortunate pattern we have seen recently of attempts to deprive U.S. international broadcasting from in-country outlets," Tomlinson said. "But these efforts will not stop us from carrying out our mission to provide accurate, truthful information to Azerbaijan or other countries around the world."
RFE/RL Acting President Jeffrey N. Trimble called the closure of ANS "another blow to media freedom in Azerbaijan, which has already been under intense attack over the past few years." Trimble also called on the government of President Ilham Aliev "to live up to the media freedom commitments embodied in Azerbaijan's constitution and which have been made to organizations such as the OSCE and the Council of Europe, and return ANS -- and RFE/RL's FM programs -- to the air as soon as possible."
VOA produces a twice-a-day television show, "News Flash," which runs on ANS, in addition to the weekly show, "American Review."
VOA's Azerbaijani Service also produces a daily 30-minute radio show carried by Antenn-FM in Azerbaijan, in addition to SW frequencies. VOA Azerbaijani Service maintains two separate websites;www.voanews.com/azerbaijani in Latin and www.voanews.com/azeri in Persian-Arabic script. All VOA Azerbaijani radio and television programs are streamed for on-demand listening and viewing.
ANS radio is also a broadcast affiliate of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, whose half-hour daily program was forced off of nationwide FM frequencies along with the shutdown of ANS. RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service also broadcasts 3.5 hours of programming on a government-granted AM frequency in Baku, as well as its complete 5.5 hour daily schedule on satellite and Internet audio channels; these broadcasts have not been affected by the closure of ANS.
RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service broadcasts five and one half hours of programming a day to Azerbaijan, produced in Prague and the service's Baku Bureau and transmitted to listeners via satellite and AM and FM signals provided by local affiliate stations. Azerbaijani Service programming is also available via the Internet, at the service's websitehttp://www.azadliq.org and at http://www.rferl.org; English-language news about events in Azerbaijan can be found on the RFE/RL website, at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/azerbaijan.html.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported, non-military international broadcasting, including The Voice of America (VOA); Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa); Radio Free Asia (RFA); and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí). Through its broadcast services, the BBG provides the United States and its leaders direct and immediate access to a worldwide audience of 140 million people. Current governors are Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Joaquin F. Blaya, Blanquita W. Cullum, D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, Edward E. Kaufman, and Steven J. Simmons. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice serves as an ex officio member.
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