Radio FreeEurope in Azerbaijan

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This week in class, we have been discussing the various ways in which radio can be used in underdeveloped countries. What we may think of as an outdated technology, radio has continued to stay relevant in the field of development. Radio can provide education, information and news to the most rural populations whether it be learning about farming methods, or informing the public of healthy life practices to increase hygiene, sanitation, and reproductive health. More importantly, radio can be used to allow the oppressed to find their voices and identity, hold officials accountable.

Radio FreeEurope is a broadcaster funded by the U.S. congress that provides information and news to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East- countries “where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed”

In Azerbaijan’s case, the station exists because of the former. Azerbaijan has a Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index “Not Free” and Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index rank of 162nd/179. The government of Azerbaijan jails journalists and heavily censors all media. Since December 2008, all international broadcasters including Radio Azadliq, the BBC, Voice of America and Radio FreeEurope were banned from broadcasting on local radio requencies. On Radio FreeEurope’s website, it explains that

In an environment of total government control over national television and radio channels, Radio Azadliq has a firm reputation as the only source of unbiased information and the most professional media outlet in Azerbaijan.”

Radio is an important tool to providing unbiased news and consequently  the ability to hold a government accountable for their true actions. Radio and access to channels like Radio FreeEurope are powerful tools to political freedom and freedom of speech.

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