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RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service: Radio Azadliq

In an environment of near-total government control over the media, Radio Azadliq has built a reputation as a leading source of independent news.

Fast Facts

  • Language: Azerbaijani
  • Established: 1953
  • Coverage: Radio: 1.3 hours per week original / TV: 1.5 hours per week original / digital content​
  • Distribution: Radio (HotBird 13B satellite, Internet), TV (Turksat satellite, partner programs); Azeri/Russian website, mobile, YouTube, social media
  • Locations: Prague

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Ranking, 2017: Not Free (90/100).
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2018: 163/180.
  • The government of Azerbaijan jails journalists and heavily censors all media.

Attacks On The Azerbaijani Service

  • Azadliq Radiosu’s website has been under a court-ordered ban since May 2017 on claims that it poses “a threat” to Azerbaijan’s national security. The ban continued through the country's April 2018 presidential election.
  • On December 26, 2014, Azerbaijani police raided and sealed RFE/RL's Baku bureau. The bureau remains closed, and journalists working for RFE/RL in Azerbaijan continue to be harassed by Azerbaijani officials.
  • Since December 2008, all international broadcasters including Radio Azadliq, the BBC, and Voice of America are banned from broadcasting on local FM and MW frequencies.
  • Azadliq Radiosu’s social media pages and channels endure continuous pro-government troll attacks; several providers periodically block access to Azadliq’s social media accounts.

Audience Stats

  • Azadliq Radiosu has a high-impact social media presence in Azerbaijan. Its eight Facebook pages are followed by a combined total of 800,000 fans. Its YouTube channel has the country’s largest audience, with 257,000 subscribers and 6 million views on average each month, while its Instagram page is the country’s most popular Instagram newsfeed, with 222,000 followers. In 2018, videos on all Azadliq’s platforms have been viewed 87 million times, a 22% increase over the previous year.

Impact

  • Radio Azadliq’s investigative reports on senior officials’ family businesses and offshore accounts linked to President Ilham Aliyev’s family have been widely cited by major US and UK media.
  • RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova, who was imprisoned in retaliation for her investigative reporting in 2014 and remains banned from leaving Azerbaijan, was awarded the 2015 "Barbara Goldsmith Freedom To Write Award" by PEN American Center

Updated: September 2018

Facts & Stats about Azerbaijan

  • Population: 9.76 million (World Bank estimate, 2016)
  • Most Common Languages: Azeri, Armenian, Russian, Lezgi,
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 90 out of 100 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 163 out of 180 (2018)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 123 out of 176 (2017)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 132 out of 163 (2018)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Azerbaijan (2017)
  • Amnesty International: Azerbaijan Report (2017/2018)​

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