Azeri private radio scraps some BBC relays in protest at “biased” reports
BBC Monitoring research
2 Jun 04
The Baku-based Azerbaijani commercial FM station ANS CM has suspended
transmission of BBC programmes in Russian to Central Asia and the
Caucasus at 0700 local time (0200 gmt). On 1 and 2 June, the BBC output
was replaced by continuous music and station identification jingles.
A statement by the company, ANS CM, which has been rebroadcasting BBC
World Service output for the last 10 years, said it had stopped the
transmission because of what it called the biased BBC reporting on
the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. The BBC denied the accusations and
expressed regret over the decision. In a statement, the BBC said that
it has remained committed to providing fair, impartial and balanced
coverage of events in the region.
ANS TV, operated by the same company as the radio station, reported on
1 June that ANS CM radio would not broadcast the Russian programmes
in Azerbaijan because “the morning programmes of this service of the
BBC and the programmes by producer Mark Grigoryan are distorting the
truth about the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict”.
A deadline of 1 June was reported on the air by ANS TV on 24 May,
by which the BBC was to have addressed the issues raised by ANS in
letters sent to the BBC since 6 April.
ANS TV has carried regular criticism since 12 May about BBC Russian
programming for the region and BBC web pages in Russian which dealt
with the 10th anniversary of the cease-fire in the Nagornyy Karabakh
conflict. Similar critical reports were aired to a lesser extent by
some other Baku-based commercial TV stations. Azerbaijani press and
news agency reporting of the affair has been more muted.
On 31 May the head of the presidential administration, Ramiz Mehdiyev,
told Azartac news agency that a visit by a BBC correspondent
to Nagornyy Karabakh, without the permission of the Azerbaijani
authorities and in violation of Azerbaijani laws, had caused some
discontent. However, since freedom of the press is protected in
Azerbaijan, he said it would be unacceptable to take sanctions against
the radio station or to take it off the air.
ANS CM radio on 102 FM did rebroadcast the BBC Azeri Service at 1700
gmt on 1 June as scheduled. The dedicated BBC FM relay for Baku on
103.3 FM, which carries BBC World Service in English, the Central
Asia and the Caucasus Service in Russian and Azeri, as well as the
BBC Turkish Service and some British domestic programming, continued
to operate as scheduled.