Azerbaijani Journalists in 2016

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Journalists’ Trade Union of Azerbaijan (JuHI) announced the final report on journalists’ social condition and media events in Azerbaijan for 2016.

The Journalists’ Trade Union of Azerbaijan (JuHI) has completed its survey on journalists’ social condition in Azerbaijan for 2016. Mushfig Alasgarli, Chairman of JuHI stated that the survey was conducted among 20 national newspapers, 6 information agencies, 15 news portals, as well as 6 weekly newspaper, 4 TV Channels that have potentialities to influence on public opinion and stable circulation (in total 51 editorials were covered).

 

Participants of the survey answered the questions related to their monthly incomes; legalization of labour contracts; undergoing of social and health insurance, as well as the journalists’ challenges and successes for 2016 and other relevant questions. The following results were revealed:

  1. On Daily newspapers, Information agencies and National broadcasting TV channel:

The situation with individual labor contracts remained the same. As it was in 2015, 92% of interviewed journalists/employees stated the existence of individual labour contract at editorials. The individual labor contracts were not signed with all employees; this problem was in previous years and also observed in 2015. On an average in majority editorials at the best case 60% of employees have labour contracts; and 40% of employees’ function at the editorial due to verbal agreement; their labour relations are not formalized. According to the amendments made to the labor legislation there were made certain serious regulations for transition of media onto the electronic information system. Nevertheless, the process is not completed. The list of the problems which needs to be solved are listed below:

  1. a) Lack of individual labour contracts. Despite the 45-47th articles of the Labour Code in Azerbaijan demanding labour contracts for the permanent work places, The media companies in Azerbaijan prefer signing short-period contracts, which allows employers from re-signing new contract by the end of the previous one.

 

  1. b) Application of the labour contracts to all members of the media offices. There are still some companies have signed contracts only with 50-55% of its employees. The rest of the employees, which makes 40-45% percent of the overall number, are working with no legally biding documents, but verbal agreement.

 

  1. c) The symbolic character of labor contract keeps its actuality as a problem; in most editorials the contract doesn’t reflect the real wage and realities related to other issues.

 

  1. d) There is neither progress nor retrogress in health insurance sphere. Application of health insurance is lower than the minimum level – so lower than the 5%.

 

  1. No changes observed in journalists’ monthly wages:

 

  1. a) Monthly income of journalists working for the national TV channels, information agencies, daily newspapers and popular news portals in 2016 was about AZN500-600 (83% of interviewed participants). Very few interviewees (about 3%) earned AZN350-450 and the rest of the respondents (14%) earned AZN700-800 and more.

 

  1. b) Analogical trend was observed in monthly salaries of journalists working for national weekly newspapers. Journalists working for the editorials of this category received AZN250-350 per month as salary.

 

  1. c) Regional media employees are earning 150-300 AZN per month (91% of respondents). Only 9% of respondents indicated their salaries as 350-400 AZN. The regional TV broadcasting company employees are earning 250-300 AZN. The regional representatives of national TV broadcasting companies earn 450-600 AZN.

 

Minimum cost of living for 2016 in Azerbaijan was 155 AZN.

 

  1. The respondents expressed their opinions on some factors positively influencing journalists’ social condition in 2016:

 

– The President I.Aliyev has signed decree on awarding Radio and TV broadcasting company workers on the occasion of 90th year of radio broadcasting, and 60th year of television broadcasting in Azerbaijan. As the result, 102 journalists have received different awards and honorary names.

– In 2016, 460 journalists were the winners of journalist contests held by the State Fund for the Support of Mass Media Development under the President of the Azerbaijan Republic, which also contributed to the increase of journalists’ income.

– Several journalists arrested on the previous dates were pardoned by the Presidential Decree and released from prison. They are Khadija Ismayil, Parviz Hashimli, Tofig Yagublu, Hilal Mammadov and Rauf Mirgadirov.

– Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences, entered into force. According to the amendment, for the violation of the rights of journalists, especially journalists respond to a request made by the law-tightened penalties for granted. In addition, in 2016, several law regulating media activities – Administrative Offences and Criminal Code amendments – were adopted for spreading information on the Internet, which designed to regulate the rights of journalists, journalists’ activities and had a significant impact on the creation of favorable work environment for media workers.

– One of the noticeable events in 2016 is the elimination of the group of so-called journalist, which would work under the cover of former Ministry of National Security, and threaten wealthy businessmen and ordinary citizens. The activity of this group of journalists, which would mainly camp around ‘Gundelik Baki’, and ‘Bizim Dovr’ newspapers, were harming for the reputation of journalists and security of citizens in the country.

 

 

  1. The respondents underlined the most important challenges disturbing them in 2016. The urgent problems are the followings:

 

– Starting from the beginning of the year, value-added tax (VAT) was applied to print materials also, which increased the production cost of the print media by 18 percent, and created unfavourable conditions. In addition, the devaluation of the national currency increased the price of the print papers, which are imported, nearly 3 times. Alongside creating risk for the sustainability of some media companies, this also drastically affected journalists’ conditions.

– The popular news-site ‘Gun.az’, “Gundelik Telegraf” newspaper, ANS TV Broadcasting Company, ‘Zaman Azerbaijan’ newspaper ceased their activities (Currently, ‘Gundelik Teleqraf’ functions only as a news-site). In addition, some of the famous media companies started firing their employees individually, and in groups. Thanks to the increase of the web news platforms, these journalists could find jobs. Nevertheless, this was a negative trend in 2016

– The revival of military actions at the line of contact of Armenian and Azerbaijani Armed Forces, created dangerous environment for journalists, alongside general population. Some of the journalists were harmed during the news reporting. The Garabagh bureau representative of ATV broadcasting company were harmed.

– in 2016, the physical violations against journalists were recorded. Several media representatives, were subjected to physical violence, threatened, their equipment were damaged, while carrying out professional duty. In addition, increased the need for protection of journalists.

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