Sunday, January 4, 2009

Off the air

I have lost my morning companion. For the last nine months or so, I’ve had the habit of turning on the BBC while I make my tea and breakfast. Yesterday, I tried to find the station. I couldn’t. Just a variety of music stations. A couple of talk shows, broadcast in Azerbaijani, of course. But no BBC.

A talk with a colleague in the afternoon confirmed my hunch. The station is off the air. The government had threatened this action more than a month ago, and apparently it has followed through with its plan. The Azerbaijani language broadcasts - which included English lessons - had been the most objectionable for the government. But apparently the people in charge decided to just remove the whole station.

My colleague, a journalist, said the Radio Free Europe station - also affected by the government action - is still keeping its office space and employees, devoting its resources to developing its website. But a website is not a replacement for a radio station. I can’t drag my computer into the kitchen so that I can listen to a podcast while I make breakfast.

And what of all those students who depended on the stations for the English language lessons? Is diminishing the educational opportunities for Azerbaijanis really in the national interest?

7 comments:

Ani said...

So you went away a couple of weeks, and came back to find a President-for-Life and no independent media...at least you've got gas (so far).

It seems to be that Azerbaijan and Armenia are trying to compete to see who will get kicked out of the OSCE first. Anyway, here's a Reuters story from a few days ago.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/media
News/idUKLU31737120081230

Eric said...

Yes, gas supply seems OK - for the moment.
Couldn't get the Reuters story. Link was inactive. I'll check it out through different means.....

Krista said...

I'd like to see the OSCE take a position on this, but given its election monitoring reports that might be too optimistic!
welcome back to baku, eric. i'm sure it missed you...

Ani said...

Made it tiny, so maybe it will work now:
http://tinyurl.com/9v26dj

Also, here's the RFERL report:
http://tinyurl.com/7xlyle

Ani said...

And apparently the same thing has happened in Kyrgyzstan:

http://centralasia.foreignpolicyblogs.com/

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