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US Hopes to Head Off Suspension of Foreign Broadcasts in Azerbaijan


The United States is expressing hope that Azerbaijani authorities will continue to permit local radio and television stations to carry programming by foreign broadcasters, including those of VOA, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty and the BBC.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Julie Reside, says the U.S. Embassy in Baku is holding talks with Azerbaijani officials in efforts to clarify the situation and bring the broadcasts into compliance with the country's media laws.

The comment follows government warnings to the private Azerbaijani TV network ANS, which currently carries such programming. Azerbaijani regulators have indicated they may be illegal because ANS has no license to broadcast foreign programming.

However, the president of ANS said Tuesday the head of the National Television and Radio Council, Azerbaijan's media regulatory agency, told him several months ago a license would be granted to his company. It has been without a license since 2003.

The head of the broadcast council has said it is illegal for Azerbaijani media outlets to run foreign programming, but media rights advocates disagree.

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