I just decided to write blog every day here or in New Media part of TOL blogs.

This time masterpiece comes from Azerbaijan Statistical Committee, which recently showed, that in 2008 Azerbaijan imported 34… donkeys and mules. That’s totally strange. Especially when things come to prices: The total cost 179.700 USD has been paid! So one donkey (or mule) cost 5285 USD 29 cents, which is incredible. It is nearly 5 times (may be more) expensive, that to buy donkey in Azerbaijan. i will get prices of donkeys here and inform you soon 🙂

So who and why needed this pure-blooded animals?

It took some time to add something new here, but it is very interesting updates. As long as Turksat worked as the best suitable satellite for not only Turkish, but the biggest Azerbaijani and Georgian channels Caucasus did not have own system to think about many technological aspects of data transferring. Now, when Azersat is declared to be sent ‘upstairs’, Internet and other digital learning systems could be applied in South Caucasus countries more actively.

Here is information, which discovered and showed only here. It is always problem to find such interesting information. Not for us and you anymore. Please remember to link all used information to this blog. In another case you could have problems.

Azersat will be sent to its orbital situation in the end of 2009. According to 2 different calculations it will cost Azerbaijan between 100-140,000,000 USD. What Azerbaijan will get instead of it is possibility to take the biggest channels from Turksat (Turkey), Express AM-2 (Russia) and Hotbird (Europe) and also add local and regional TV stations for larger audience along with channels of other countries. This is only regarding TV opportunities.

How orbit place obtained?

Government of Azerbaijan and Ministry of Communications and Informational Technologies has worked a lot on it. At the first round, they have decided to buy 57°, but it appeared to be very expensive and there was social problem, which we describe below. It tool long time to decide on place, but 43,0°E which could be close to Turksat 42,0°E was good opportunity. In this case people, who accustomed to Turkish channels in Azerbaijan and other countries, will be able to want both satellite TV’s, without changing position of antennas. According to Flysat.com it is already known position for Azersat. Satellite, which will work from 2010, should have position as below in chart:


AzerSat

50° East

2010

Proton

Ku

According to CaucasusNewMedia information 50° East position is a property of Turksat, and government of Azerbaijan did not bought, but rented it. Already rented and needed agreement signed with Türksat Uydu Haberleşme Kablo TV ve İşletme A.Ş. According to Interfax new agency, price of renting did not announced.

New channels in Azersat

It is already decided to open ITV2- second channels inside of Public Television., which start just with new satellite. ITV, ITV2 and 3 state owned radio stations frequencies in satellite will be under coding. Lider TV, which is now in Hotbird, also will appear in Azersat too. It will have BISS coding. According to CacasusNewMedia’s information, there should be totally 45 channels from Azerbaijan, including regional and to be opened.

Some of channels already bought TP’s in Azersat and paid for 2 years. There are not some well known country-wide and regional channels, for example – ANS. They are waiting for internal and AZersat’s approval.

Who else?

Only serving Azerbaijan is not good point for commercial project, so it is planned to invite and to have (!)Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Kara Kalpak’s and Tatarstan channels in Azersat, also to include cable television providers into the channel lists. Cable TV (supposedly KaTV from Baku) will be in coded frequencies. There could be some discussions under way.

Kazsat vs Azersat

AS you may know, Kazsat first satellite after couple months of working stopped functioning. But Kazakhstan is planning to have more satellites: Kazsat 3 in 2013, Kazsat 4 in 2016 and Kazsat 4 in 2020.

Having more channels without license 🙂

According to CaucasusNewMedia’s information, state owned and state financed channels – AZTV and ITV will be only in Azersat. Even for possibility to increase number of channels lawyers found holes. According to the law and internal documentation of National Television and Radio Council it is possible to open new thematic channels within older one and to broadcast from satellite without additional license. For example, Space TV or ANS could open new channel any time they want.

Still under discussion…

There are areas which still under discussion, but will be decided soon. Azersat should be actively used for mobile communications and Internet.

Also some Russian channels could appear in Azersat.

2 out of 10 companies, which should produce satellite already selected.

Sci-Fi and Universal Channel could appear in Azersat. Even Discovery Channel and some other will be translated into Azerbaijani and added to Azersat.  These channels will appear under cable TV’s coding.

Here is a list of TV channels, which already decided to ‘go to’ Azersat:

01. Aygun TV (Samakhi – Zagatala)

02. Xachmaz TV (Xachmaz)

03. Simurq Mtv (Tovuz)

04. Xayal TV (Guba)

5. Ttv (Tovuz)

06. Dunya TV (Sumqayit)

07. Ctv (Lankaran)

08. Shemkir Tv (Shemkir)

09. Sheki Tv (Sheki)

10. Vatan Tv (Shamakhi)

11. GUTB TV (Guba)

12. Alternativ TV (Ganja)

13. Nakhchivan channel (Nakhchivan)

14. Mingechevir TV (Mingechevir)

15. Kapaz TV (Ganja)

16. AZTV (Baku)

17. Lider TV (Baku)

18. Space TV (Baku)

19. İctimai TV – ITV (Baku)

20. İctimai TV 2 – ITV2 (Baku)

21. Khazar TV (Baku)

22. ATV (Azad Azerbaycan) (Baku)

23. Balakan tv (Balakan)
24. Qafqaz tv (Guba)

I have been very busy with my job, but now is excellent example of e-campaign could be the best excuse for not posting for so long. Soon after elections, Azerbaijan’s National Television and Radio Council (NTRC), announced, that foreign radio stations, which has own FM (broadcasts only in Baku!) will be taken out of this frequencies. This doesn’t mean their closing. Of course this started mass campaign against this decision. This time outcome from society is more, than from officials.

BBG and BBC have special statement, but that is only official side of activities. New media is using very largely. Internet groups getting mails and people sharing ideas on how to stop this decision, how to influence to NTRC.  Number of Facebook users, which joined supporters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty increased 500 in this weekend. And when USA votes and everybody looking for the result Azerbaijani blogosphere writes about this 3 radio channels. Now there is some hope – head of NTRC said, that they could give license for one more year to this stations. But it will be the last time. Date of decision is the middle of December. Till then we will see boost in this direction. When some changes in real media happens, new media is quick to respond. I have found one comment, that the next will be Internet But this area is very different. See here:

Prices for İnternet (surprisingly) went down and I have seen a big changes for Uninet (private) and Aztelecom (state-owned) companies. There are more, than 40 Internet providers in Azerbaijan. All companies want to have good face just before the biggest IT, Communication and in some ways new media exhibition.

Also one consulting company taking blog professional to teach companies how to use new media for business. That’s real and incredible change in Azerbaijan. If businessmen will listen carefully and understand why they need us (new media people) it will help to develop and increase potentials of society to influence in many ways. So diversification is what we are taking to communities.

The last news is developing of new very cheap computer project for Azerbaijan with sponsorship from Intel and Microsoft. This will take place presumably next year.

The latest new is different and has connection with the first paragraph. Today I have got information, that AzerSat-Delta Telecom (which is monopolist) had a problems and could not deliver quality Internet to providers. All Azerbaijan suffered for some tens of minutes. Monopolization is what any market economy should fight and use new media as a tool for this.

This is really elections year and we all enjoyed it. Actually when blogs and whole new media were blocked and censored first time in Caucasus in Armenia it was not, that fun. I have been told, soon after elections, that Armenian blogosphere even used Azeri blogs to get information and post them. They have got information from international media, posted via Azerbaijani blogs. That’s very interesting! Now president of Armenia signed a decree to start independent investigation on issue. Will it be independent? Will it analyze situation on Internet and blogs?

Government still uses censorship of diverse types: Even film about Armenian republic in the beginning of 20th century was censored, because there have been shown some truthful facts about Dashnaktsutyun party, which still in political arena.

Here is a quick link to The Economist map how world will vote on US presidential elections, if they can. You see all Caucasus in blue, 2-3 days ago Georgia were for McCain.

In Azerbaijan just before elections, Russian day.az stopped forum about political issues, which is still closed. In Georgia, government at last opened all .ru domains for general public. Now you can open it freely. But what officials have seen during ‘ban time’ is that, people used a lot of proxi servers to go and read, what Russians write about war, South Ossetia and Georgians.

Actually Georgia is the most interesting country due to underdevelopment of blogosphere there. Just before the war and after elections I had great talks with international group of possible new media activists, which just wanted to spend a lot of money for new media in Georgia. But realities shows, Georgia doesn’t have many bloggers. There are few blogs, even in blogosphere Armenia is bigger, than Georgia. Azerbaijan is the biggest. Why it is so?

Georgians, often talking about more openness of media for public, which influence to the numbers. But it could not be serious. Then USA or any other European country with media freedom should have fewer blogs, than, let say undemocratic countries, which is not true in reality.

So actual stuff, that I discovered after some months of research: in Armenia we see a lot of people, that got an idea of new media from Russia, because Armenia is under Russian influence and Armenians mostly speaks Russian, better than Georgians. Also there are a lot of Diaspora blogs in internet, which boost the numbers. Azerbaijani blogosphere is unique with South Azerbaijan blogs factor, created from Iran and possibilities to create bogs in own language. There are none of these factors in Georgia and first question you will hear is: what is a blog?

So we decided just o start answering this question for wide range of people, show them how to create and start writing in blog. I couldn’t say that it was satisfaction for ‘donors’, which just have money for ‘Georgian new media’, which doesn’t exist in reality. They do not want to spent them in 2 other countries (it is usual in other fields too). So they have big troubles. Nowadays new media in whole Caucasus needs development not only from grass roots, but also from traditional media. Keep these directions and you will be successful, which is very hard with censorship.

May be e-elections is our future, but e-Democracy is reality. Sometimes it is hard to live without it, when you is ‘democracy addict’. I will write about it tomorrow, just want to add some funny story from Staffan Danielson, parliamentary from Sweden, with whom I met here in Caucasus. We have been talking about security situation, wars, pipelines and Russian policy, democracy and Internet. He said, that just before his visit to Caucasus his email address were published in different web-pages regarding to popular issue. And he has got many thousands of emails. So Email address is blocked and he could not answer or reply. This what e-democracy sometimes causes. Per-to-per is good, but not effective always.

Last months in Caucasus has shown great interest in building local-language-networks. In Azerbaijan appeared some of them such as sirr.az, myxazar.com. kim.az (which belongs to the biggest mailing portal – box.az), dream.az, but only the last one tried to do some offline ad. Unsuccessfully, which did not increased number of users too much. Sirr.az, which is totally new, but more successfully, just started change inside and preparing for future ads. I have got some information about promotion campaign at the end of year, on the eve of new. But most successful for now is face.ge from Georgia, which belongs to Rate Solutions from Estonia. The also have project for Azerbaijan – birge.az, which also looks to be prepared till the end of the year.

But issues is how, they have succeded in Georgia. Giga Paitchadze, also blogger, known as a dv0rsky, just went to Rustavi2 (Rustavi Ori) TV channel and did advertisement at new time! Actually now he has some couple of thousand users. But this shows, that still in Caucasus we use media as a main stream promotion, PR, advertisement tool, even to get people into Internet. It should be like this sometimes, but marketing for net should be done mostly by net. So influence of new media is very low here. Actual stuff appearing last months could change this situation rapidly.

Sirr.az also preparing to go to Georgian market and help to take more people to networks, because it is very different from face.ge: has more social functionalities – blogs, groups, event and sharing possibilities. Main idea is to take NGOs to more social activities, through using Internet, which is totally new for South Caucasus.

We should admit, that still there is total monopoly of Facebook, Myspace, V Kontakte and Odnoklassniki. Hope it will change into national networks one day.  See Alexa‘s statistics:

Country/Place in Alexa

MySpace

Facebook.com

Vkontakte

Odnoklassniki

Azerbaijan

13

29

38

Georgia

43

54

88

1

Armenia

15

5

28

1

My previous post have been read by 60 people, so this inspired me after all to continue. Also there is real effect on it, when one of ‘bad guys’ founded in army hospital in Alyat town and there could be more. So thanks to new media some changes in Azerbaijani army could be seen y everybody. Actual stuff is out of here, when according to some agencies, Ministry of Defense prohibited use of phones with cameras (so, not all of them). Is it strange for you?

I hope, Internet connection in Caucasus countries will be more cheaper and it will allow people to watch the videos and podcasts. But for now we do have some awkvard prices, which probably may change soon. Caucasus Online, which is in reality monopolist in Georgia, did better job to provide specail fiber-optic line under Black Sea to Bulgaria. It make sense, when you have direct line to Southern Europe. But in a recent war and Russian army bombed line in Gori, which after rebuilding will be the best solution. Now Georgia get 78% of its Internet from Azerbaijan’s Delta Telecom, which is also monopolists (and bigger) and actually get all Internet from Russia (via Scandinavian countries).

Mobile Internet area were better in mobile Internet via 3G, which is still is not allowed in Azerbaijan. But Armenia just started with WiMAX, which is much better.

The biggest operator “ComStar Tele-Systems” of Russia and CIS countries and “Cornet-AM” CSJC “Comstar-Tele-Systems” Daughter Company will start its service in Armenia, which will invest WIMax technologies

So everybody who use Internet, will be able use it even from the car.

Actually Comstar is under Systema Group of companies, which is very close to Putin’s goverment. So Russia took this sphere of business in Armenia too. At the same time nearly 18 towns there connected to WiMAX. Russia itself will start with WiMAX at the end of year. There is also information, that Azerbaijan planning with it in March 2009, presumable under same Delta Telecoms umbrella.

So here is a poll, you can vote:

Starting this blog wan in my mind from the late spring, but projects just started and I was full of job. Now, when new media is started to develop and even global financial crisis (feeled here in Caucasus too) could not stop it – I am begining. The second issue, influence me – is the real increasing in the role of new media for civil society.

Th issue, that YouTube is popular in here appearing now, when we see use of this new media tool for real citizen activities. In the beginning of the month there appeared a video on violence in army. Spokesman for Ministry of Defense were fast to react, that it is not real: ‘This video tape is a “good” play. It seems that by wearing the military uniform and recording this on the cell phone, someone tried to create a material about violence in the army.’ Actually he was right. But this event of using new media for social change is worked and Ministry of Defense started wide investigation. As a result of that, they found no such people, which appeared in video, in this governmental structure. But today it is found, that this video was real and people in there were not actors, but soldiers from … Internal Force. So 2 guys arrested, 2 fired.

Talking is good, but showing is better. We see real changes and possible to influence for social change through new media. Actual stuff is here to help officials to find the ‘pain points’ and resolve them.

Now we have one more result of this investigation. Azerbaycan.Tv and Youtube published new video about violence in army (which happens in one of the hospitals). Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence said, that they have started new investigation. May be this time they will find something inside. You can see new video here too.