A detained activist in a police car. Photo: REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

14 January 2021, 11:28

MDA's punitive powers worry Baku journalists

The powers of the newly-formed Azerbaijani Media Development Agency (MDA) are formulated vaguely, but this structure is entitled to punish the media, human rights defenders and journalists have noted.

On January 12, Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliev, signed a decree on deepening the reforms in the Azerbaijani media sector and setting up the MDA, endowed with punitive functions.

Alesker Mamedli, a media law expert, is sceptical about the prospects of the new structure in terms of the progress of the media freedom in Azerbaijan.

"The Media Development Support Fund in Azerbaijan has become a source of funding for most of the unpopular but loyal media outlets. The fund distribution by means thereof was non-transparent," Mr Mamedli has noted.

Samir Aliev, an expert at the NGO "Assistance to Economic Initiatives", has also expressed doubts about the efficiency of the newly-created agency.

"The main 'rivals' of Azerbaijani press are social networks, especially the YouTube. Readers learn about what is happening in the country right there ... Traditional media, primarily the TV, fail to hold debates on socially significant issues with presenting different viewpoints," Mr Aliev has explained.

In his opinion, "the recipe number one for the press progress is its independence and absence of censorship."

The mission of the state is to create conditions for the media free operation; and such structures should not create restrictions for media activities, said Khalid Agaliev, a lawyer at the Institute of Media Law.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on January 14, 2021 at 06:00 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Author: Faik Medjid; Source: CK correspondent

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