According to the media freedom index released by the Reporters Without Borders Organization, in 2023, Azerbaijan moved up three places, took 151st place among 180 countries, and was among the countries with "very bad" media freedom. The indicator for Azerbaijan has been like this for the last 10 years, and only in 2014 was the situation assessed as "bad". The head of the organization's Eastern Europe and Central Asia office announced that Azerbaijan's progress by several steps was due to the worse results of other countries."
Seymur Kazimov, an experienced journalist with 15 years of expertise in conflict reporting and international relations, expressed his pessimism about the developments in the Azerbaijani media landscape. He believes that the new media law restricts the fundamental freedoms of media outlets and individuals. The challenges faced by journalists in Azerbaijan are compounded by the political, economic, and social situation. Nonetheless, the younger generation of journalists remains hopeful, striving for freedom and independence, and actively participating in training and seminars.
Alasgar Mammadli, a lawyer specializing in media issues, raised concerns about the new Media Law. He criticized the numerous strict and illegitimate requirements for journalists' registration, emphasizing their non-compliance with the Convention. Additionally, the law fails to address concerns about the structure, independence, and regulation of licensed and unlicensed journalistic activities.
The new law aims to create a unified register of journalists, mandating them to register and work under an employment contract, service contract, or TIN. The law was prepared by the newly established Media Development Agency (MEDIA), replacing the former State Support Fund for the Development of Mass Media.
Representatives of the Media Development Agency defended the draft law, stating that it does not contradict international law or threaten freedom of expression. They emphasized that the state wants a strong media with journalists' words trusted in society.
Critics argue that the closed processing of the draft law was aimed at restricting freedom of speech in Azerbaijan. They highlight the lack of open dialogue with the authorities during the law's preparation and emphasize the need for public discussion.