What principles will guide sharing of 1.3 million AZN resources allocated from state budget 2009 for the development of press? - JOURNALIST INVESTIGATION

What principles will guide sharing of 1.3 million AZN resources allocated from state budget 2009 for the development of press?  - <font color=red>JOURNALIST INVESTIGATION  </font>
# 01 December 2008 10:19 (UTC +04:00)
- Documents of the Press Development Assistance Fund were submitted to the President’s Office

Chairman of the Press Council (PC) Aflatun Amashov told APA that according to the Conception of State Support for the development of mass media, certain measures related to the development of press, including government grants for the press, loans, targeted aids, subsidies were considered. The Press Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) will carry out the works considered in the Conception. PC Chairman said PDAF would be established in the next few days. “The Fund has to share one million and 300 thousand AZN allocated for the development of press from the state budget 2009. The Fund has not ben established yet. Its conception should be formed in the targeted directions”.

Amashov said the Press Council had submitted a part of PDAF documents to the President’s Office as the projects. “Those documents and the Fund’s regulations are elaborated at the President’s Office and will be approved in the next few days. After establishment of the Fund, it will determine the directions to share the resources”.
PC Chairman said electronic mass media would not benefit from these resources, which were considered only for the print media and agencies.

The Chairman of the Council said the Fund’s activity instructions would be prepared after its establishment. “The Fund should finance those media organizations that have an impetus in their self-administration. There are a lot of newspapers in Azerbaijan, which have not even the bank account or taxpayers’ identification number and their accounting documents do not meet necessary demands and have no labor contracts with their employees. Some media organizations have a huge debt. Such organizations probably will not be assisted. There are some media organizations, whose journalists violate the professional behavior rules. They also cannot be funded. List of funded media organizations can probably be guided by these principles”.

Amashov said PDAF would control spending of resources, but control mechanisms had not been determined yet. “There is no need to rush. Let’s establish the Fund and then to exchange opinions about the aides. We should prepare such mechanisms that will be transparent and acceptable, and will improve the economic situation of the press”.

The Chairman of the Council considers that the resources are continuation of the media support in Azerbaijan. “The Conception will provide the media organizations with opportunities to finance themselves. If we use the resources correctly, it will be beginning of a new period in the Azerbaijani journalism and the resources will be increased in the next years. It is early to speak about the Fund’s administration, but we consider that projects, which strengthen economic backbones of Azerbaijani Press, should be financed at first”.

Funds will also be allocated on the projects of journalists and journalist groups.

Alimammad Nuriyev, President of the Fund of Constitutional Studies, member of the working group that prepared the Conception of Assistance to Media Development, told APA that the media outlets should be registered in order to get the allocation. The media outlets having certificate may make use of this assistance. Nuriyev said the Press Development Assistance Fund would include Observation Council and Experts Group.
“The question is the financing of various projects of print media. Apart from financial assistance, media outlets will also receive a number of consultative, methodical, organizational, technical assistances,” he said.
Nuriyev said there would be projects in connection with the development of regional mass media and added that some priorities would be applied in terms of the themes of the projects.
“More attention will be paid to the projects related to Azerbaijanism, civil rights, human rights and liberties, occupied territories. In general over 10 directions have been determined in the conception. There will be projects strengthening material-technical basis of mass media. In any way all financial resources will pass the competition. The funds will be given to the projects winning the competition. Somebody may think that the projects of all media outlets will be accepted immediately, but it will not be so. Criteria will be determined, projects assessed, and financial assistance will be offered after that. Periodicity of media outlets will also be taken into consideration during the assessment,” he said.

Alimammad Nuriyev considers that electronic media outlets do not need this assistance, but it is planned to offer assistance to regional radios in future.
“It is wrong that the allocated funds will be equally distributed among the media outlets. The funds will be given to concrete projects. Program will be prepared and ground how the presented projects are in line with the national interests of Azerbaijan,” he said.
Nuriyev said assistance would also be offered to journalists’ investigations and distribution organizations. Journalists and journalist groups may also apply. He said the allocated funds did not suffice for the solution of media’s problems and added that the government was not obliged to assume all the problems of media.
“In this case that media outlet will be completely dependent on the government. Assistance will be offered taking into account the current state of media, economic situation and crisis,” he said.

Nuriyev said the fund will be established by January. The money will be transferred to the account of the Fund through Finance Ministry. The allocation of the funds will be carried out by the Management Board of the Fund, decisions will be executed by the executive director. Management Board will conduct monitoring to control the implementation of the projects.

“It would be good if regional televisions were also offered assistance”

Chairman of National Television and Radio Council Nushiravan Maharramli told APA that the government it would be good if the government took measures to strengthen material-technical basis of regional TV channels.
“It would be good if preferential loans were offered. We had discussed this issue before. Later we stopped the appeals, since they produced no results,” he said.
There are 14 regional and 9 country-wide TV channels (including AzTV) in Azerbaijan.

The Statute of Press Development Assistance Fund should be first of all confirmed

President’s Office told APA that the Statute of Press Development Assistance Fund should be first of all prepared and confirmed. The Statute will cover rules for the distribution of funds and whether the funds will be allocated through competition or not. People will be informed about it after the Statute is confirmed.

Over 3500 media outlets have been registered in Azerbaijan. 50 of them are electronic mass media, 20 information agencies, over 50 magazines and the others are newspapers. 30 newspapers are daily and 60 are weekly.