The head of Azerbaijan’s television authority has offered an olive branch to Russia in a dispute over reciprocal broadcasting rights that saw a Russian channel taken off the air in the Caucasian republic on Jan. 1.
Nushirevan Magerramli, chairman of the Azerbaijani broadcast council, said Russia’s RTR-Planeta could go back on the air if Russia allowed an Azeri-language channel to be broadcast inside Russia over a territory equivalent to that of Azerbaijan.
The compromise offer came Tuesday on the eve of the anticipated arrival in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, of a team of Russian TV technical experts.
The expert commission, invited by Vasily Istratov, Russia’s ambassador to the former Soviet republic, is expected to help move negotiations over reciprocal broadcasting rights that have foundered over Russian insistence that it hold at least a 50% stake in any station that broadcasts in its territory.
The dispute is now in its second year and follows a decision last July by authorities in Baku to take Russian pubcaster the First Channel off the air in Azerbaijan.
Reciprocal broadcasting rights are considered important commercial and cultural issues in Russia’s former Soviet neighbors. Many ethnic Russians and Russian speakers still live in now-independent states, and Russia is home to large numbers of workers from its former constituent republics.