(Prague, Czech Republic - May 2, 2008)
-The Azerbaijani Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty today was named "Most Successful Media Organization of the Year," by Women's Media Watch, an organization of women journalists in Baku.
The group said in the citation that Radio Azatliq, as RFE/RL is known locally, is being recognized for "providing exceptional services in promotion of public discussion in Azerbaijan."
RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin congratulated the broadcast service, saying "this is a well-deserved award for all our journalists in Azerbaijan, who do an excellent job under difficult conditions, particularly in recent months when pressure has been increasing on independent media."
Gedmin raised the issue of press freedom in a recent meeting in Baku with President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan who complained that RFE/RL is critical of his government.
RFE/RL broadcasts to Azerbaijan offer listeners a rich menu of live, interactive, call-in shows on local, social and political issues. Among the most popular programs are the daily one-hour "Dear Baku" and two-hour, prime time "After Work" shows. They have stimulated vigorous public debate about corruption, infant mortality, the state of national health care, and other issues.
RFE/RL broadcasters in Baku and Prague receive hundreds of SMS messages a day from listeners on a range of issues from national politics to city garbage collection or abuse by local officials. A special half-hour weekly show "Hotline" gives voice to listeners' views and messages and investigates their complaints.
The Women's Media Watch award was presented to RFE/RL in a ceremony marking World Press Freedom Day on May 3, a day designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press. RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service broadcasts are produced in Prague and the service's Baku Bureau and transmitted to listeners via satellite and AM and FM signals provided by local affiliate stations. Azerbaijani Service programming is also available via the Internet, at the service's website and at www.rferl.org; English-language news about events in Azerbaijan can be found here on the RFE/RL website.