Azerbaijan launches foreign channel

Move is part of bid to increase global profile

MOSCOW — Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic that borders the Caspian sea in the Caucasus, is to launch a foreign language TV service as part of a bid to increase its profile internationally.

Broadcasting in English, Russian, Azeri, Armenian, Turkish and Farsi the channel will widen access to news and information about the oil-rich country.

Nushiravan Maharramli, head of Azerbaijan’s national radio and television council, said that an open competitive tender would be launched this month for companies interested in operating the service.

He told local news agency APA that discussions were “already underway” with interested companies.

The structure and frequencies of the international channel would be decided later, Maharramli said, adding that spare capacity was available for the service.

Maharramli said the decision to set up an international channel under Azerbaijan control was prompted by the cessation of Russian language and other foreign language radio and TV broadcasts following last year’s spat between the two countries over reciprocal transmission rights.

In January 2008 the television and radio broadcasting council suspended transmission of Russian pubcaster RTR-Planeta because it lacked a broadcast license. That dispute followed an earlier one in which Russia’s top broadcaster, the First Channel, was denied broadcast rights in Azerbaijan.

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