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Top U.S. Senator Urges Baku To Reconsider Broadcasting Ruling

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar
U.S. Senator Richard Lugar

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has written to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in an effort to persuade Baku not to move forward with the removal of RFE/RL, Voice of America, and the BBC from the country's national airwaves.

While commending Aliyev on a number of recent initiatives, Lugar said he was "disappointed" to hear of the October announcement by the country's National Radio and Television Council, which said that, according to Azerbaijani law, foreign radio stations would have to stop broadcasting on local frequencies as of January 1.

Lugar called the issue "critically important."

There is no independent local broadcaster in Azerbaijan.

"The removal of these stations from FM frequencies would undoubtedly be viewed as a negative and unhelpful signal in Washington as we enter the transition between presidential administrations," Lugar's letter reads.

"I am hopeful that with your leadership an appropriate resolution can be reached that respects Azerbaijani law while preserving the right of these respected news outlets to continue broadcasting to a wide audience," Lugar concludes.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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