The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees VOA, has issued a statement deploring today's decision by the Azeri National TV-Radio Council to ban all international broadcasters, including VOA as well as RFE/RL and the BBC, from the domestic airwaves effective January 1.
"The people of Azerbaijan are the real losers," said D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors "The decision appears to be part of a concerted official effort to limit access to unbiased information. We urge the Azerbaijani authorities to reverse this decision and to continue to work to resolve this situation, as they had indicated they would. Meanwhile, we will pursue all available alternatives for broadcasting the popular programs of RFE/RL and VOA to Azerbaijan."
The U.S. State Department says the decision will represent a "serious setback to freedom of speech and retard democratic reform in Azerbaijan."
VOA's Azerbaijani Service had broadcast two five-minute newscasts and a 30-minute program daily on 101.7 FM in Baku. The Service also produces television programs, including a weekday, seven-minute Newsflash segment featuring the day's top news stories and a weekly 15-minute American Review program, which aired on Azeri TeleVision (AzTV).
VOA broadcasts are available on shortwave, on satellite and online.