BBC Monitoring is reporting that the government of Azerbaijan is to ban satellite dishes in this country. “A lot of channels broadcast in Azerbaijan via satellite will be banned and after a switch to digital broadcasting satellite dishes will be dismantled by force,” Information and Technologies Minister Ali Abbasov said.
Transition to digital broadcasting is under way, the Ekspress newspaper quoted Abbasov as saying. “Preparations continue in Azerbaijan to switch to digital broadcasting. Once the switch to digital broadcasting happens, relevant government bodies will offer a package of about ten foreign TV channels and the broadcasting of the remaining channels will not be allowed. Once the switch to digital broadcasting is over, residents’ satellite dishes will be collected forcefully,” the minister added.
In the meantime, TV expert Zeynal Mammadli does not agree with the minister and says the move is a restriction of people’s right to get information, the opposition daily Yeni Musavat said. “This is interference in the right of people to make a choice and get information.”
The head of the Media Rights Institute, Rasid Hacili, shares Mammadli’s concern, the paper said. “I do not believe satellite dishes will be completely banned. Other offers may be made instead. However, this ban is an outright intervention in the right of people to get information,” the paper quoted him as saying.
The paper added that it was also possible to watch foreign TV channels in Azerbaijan through cable television channels. The National Television and Radio Council licenses the cable TV stations, the paper said, adding that this increased the government’s chances of having this sphere under its control. The council has so far licensed 13 cable TV companies, each with a standard package ranging from 40 to 50 channels, Nemat Cavadov of the council told Yeni Musavat paper.