Media’s dependence of power grows
Non-governmental organization "Trade Union of Journalists of Azerbaijan” announced the results of a survey on social situation of journalists in 2015. The survey covered 50 media, characterized by stable activity and influence on public opinion. Among them are 25 republican dailies, five news agencies, five online portals, 10 weekly newspapers (7 regional and 3 republican), five channels (3 regional and two republican.)
The survey covered the following issues: monthly income of media workers, the official registration of labor relations, the involvement in health insurance, and the issues that concern journalists most of all.
The report indicates that in 97% of respondents sign labor contracts, but in the best case, an average of 60% of journalists sign labor contracts. Labor contracts are in most cases symbolic, and do not reflect the real wages and other issues. Medical insurance is on minimal level, and were formal signed only in two editorial offices.
A15% increase in wages of journalists is noted. The wage of 93% of respondents is 500-600 manat per month, 5% are paid 700-800 manat and more, 2% - are paid 350-400 manat. In republican newspapers wage growth was symbolic, and the wage of journalists ranges within 250-350 manat. In the regions the newspaper correspondents get 150-200 manat, and television correspondents - 250-400 manat.
The situation is sad. According to Turan, no more than 40% of journalists have labor contracts with editorial offices. Often, only editor, his deputy and accountant are formally registered.
That is, in the majority of media the activities and relationships are formed in the offices outside the law, moreover with a gross violation of the law. Salaries of the remaining 60% are issued without proper clearance, without deduction of tax. The wages noted by the Trade Union of Journalists of Azerbaijan only by half consist of the official part, and the other half is given in the "envelopes".
To date, revenues of print and online media are formed from:
1. Retail selling newspapers
3. Media Support Fund under the President
4. Illegal funding
1. Retail selling does not bring any income. Only from 20- to 300 copies of daily newspapers are sold per day through a retail network. The exceptions are the newspapers Azadlig and Yeni Musavat, which sell a couple thousand copies a day; official and openly pro-government newspaper, which the budget and controlled power structure are forced to buy also sell a day from a few thousand to 18,000 copies. Newspapers are sold at a price of 0.40 manat, from which the editorial office get only 0.20 AZN.
2. Advertising market has been monopolized, as well as the media, and is also controlled. Advertise on independent and opposition media is tacitly prohibited. Advertising often is used as legal support for the media ( by informal founder), and to support all the loyal media. The Press Council admits that advertising on online and print media ranges within 6-9 million a year. In general, the annual media advertising market is about 80 million manat, of which about 65 million manat falls on television and radio. On the parameters of the population and GDP Azerbaijan is by 10 times behind the standard volume of the advertising market in European countries.
3. State Fund for Media Support under the President of Azerbaijan, with a budget of about three million manat is a major contributor to the print media. More than 30 newspapers receive grants on its line, and assistance from 20 to 120 thousand manat per year. This is significantly higher than the newspapers get from sales. In fact, the fund acts as a donor for open media, making them overly dependent on the state. According to the regulations of the Fund, its mission is the creation of economic conditions for the development of the media and ensuring their independence. But for the entire time of activity since 2009, the Fund did not present the public this concept, what it cannot do within the policy of destruction of media independence. President twice approved the Board of the Fund during its creation in 2009, and re-election of the Board in 2013, which indicates its support for such activity. The Fund ensures the project, supported by the president, on providing journalists with apartments. Such a building was commissioned in 2013 on the eve of the presidential election, and the next similar house will be given to journalists on the eve of parliamentary elections this year.
4. Illegal financing of the media is that underwater part of the iceberg, which is invisible, and hard available for viewing. But just it is the economic basis of the media. Illegal financing of the media by the government in the face of the oligarchs can vary between 20 million manat. This is evidenced by the difference between formal and informal wages of ordinary employees and thousands of handouts for the heads of media. Such funding has been used since the beginning of the period of "Big Oil", the first half of the 2000s.
Summarizing a survey of Trade Union of Journalists of Azerbaijan it can be concluded that the media dependence on the state has increased, and the wage growth is not due to an improvement in economic conditions, but due to illegal injections. How there could be a rise in wages, if in 2014 was banned selling newspapers on the streets and in the subway, and the number of newsstands is seriously behind international standards. The Press Council admitted in 2014 that media advertising market also tended to decrease. Now, when Azerbaijan is entering a period of crisis in connection with the global trends, we can confidently predict an even greater dependence of media on the power, because it is the only source of comfortable existence of Azerbaijani journalists.
Turan Analytical Service
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