1. General rules
2. Establishment of contact with media organ
3. Making complaints
4. PC measures after acceptance of the complaint
5. Sending complaint to the editorial for reply
6. Reply of the Editorial to PC
7. Hearings at the Complaints Commission
8. Adoption of decisions at PC
9. Presenting decisions to the sides at PC
10. Publication of decisions`
11. PC information channels


1.General rules

The Press Council considers complaints connected to the media organs (newspapers, magazines and news agencies) registered with the Justice Ministry of the Azerbaijan Republic. The complaints on the materials for advertising are not accepted. The complaints should be directed to the media organ, not to concrete authors. If the material includes exact address (name), then only this concrete person can address PC. If the professional principles were violated in general order, then, every citizen can appeal the Press Council.

PC acts under the principle of giving equal opportunities to the sides both to present complaints and reply to them. PC considers the complaints as soon as possible and in informal condition. In case of inefficiency, the process is organized.

PC can reply to the inquiries through phone, post or electronic mail.

The complaints should be given within 3 months after the material was published.

The complainant should be replied within 7 days whether it would be considered. The accepted complaint should be considered within the period of not less than 2 months.

PC considers complaints related to concrete events and materials published in the press. It accepts for consideration and examines only the appeals within its powers (on breach of requirements of the Professional Code of Ethics of Journalists).

PC can also carry out investigation and review a relevant case on the ground of inquest of the court.

The complainants are regularly informed on the measures taken. Order of consideration of complaints at the Press Council is given below.

2. Establishment of contact with the media organ

The person complaining about the article or illustration published in the press, first should appeal to the editor-in-chief or one of the managers of this media organ. Balanced treatment by both sides to the problem and joint discussion is usually more effective than formal consideration and leads to quick and positive conclusion. The editorial can make commentary, answer in written form to claimant or voluntarily give appropriate refutation or publish answer or correction in the next issue.

3. Making complaints

The complainant may appeal to the PC if he is not satisfied with the editorial’s reply. He has to take the edition and material (photo) that caused his objection and attached to the complaint. The application should also be attached title of edition, number of issue, date, heading of the article. He must explain the factors causing complaint – which professional principle was infringed. A special form should be filled to submit to the PC. The cuttings with material, other documents substantiating the claim should be enclosed to the application and in a package sent to the Press Council. The attached documents should be laconic.

The complaints sent to PC should not be disclosed and given anywhere else. Note for the lawyers authorized to compile complaints on behalf of their clients: sometimes lawyers prepare the complaints. In this case, the sides should know that lawyers could only assist in explaining the cases connected to the complaint. The lawyers are not allowed to interfere in discussion of the case. Mechanism of consideration of the complaints envisions low expenses for the complainants and media organs. The PC also tries that the media organs should bear only obligations of non-legal character before the complainants.

4. PC measures after acceptance of the complaint

A. Negotiations

In many cases, the Press Council offers the sides to solve the problem by negotiation. If it is defined that the problem can be solved in this way, then PC appeals to editor of the media organ. If the editor agrees to discuss the compliant with the Executive Secretary, then the latter within 10 days should try to meet with the head of media organ and make efforts to solve the problem with negotiations.

B. Demand of obligation or additional information

1). If it is defined that there are factors allowing considering the complaint also in the court order, then, the complainant should be demanded that he should not appeal the court until the PC made final decision and sign relevant document in this connection. It is because that PC does not consider itself as an extra-structure to the courts, but an alternative structure to them in consideration of cases. There are other reasons to substantiate this demand:
- while considering the complaint or making decision, the PC might need any document the court has at its disposal;
- the sides, with the fear of failure at the court, can avoid from presenting the required information to the PC, that is, in fact to cooperate with PC.
In necessary cases, the complainants would be presented such document. The complainants, before signing it, should think over and have consultation with lawyer how to act. In lack of such chance, PC can provide the complainant with lawyer.
Besides, PC can warn relevant editorial on court perspectives of the case.

2). If the data in the application of complainant is not enough for consideration of the case, it should be explained and required additional documents, if necessary, and received explanation.

C. Refuse from accepting complaint

PC does not accept the complaints in the following cases:

- if the complaint has already been considered at the court, or, it is under investigation of law-enforcement bodies;
- if the complaint does not concern to media, or is non-suit with the principles the PC defends;
- if is clear that the complaint should be directly considered by the court;
- if the term of making complaint has passed;
- if it is impossible to determine the subject of complaint;
- if the complaint contradicts the ethic rules;
- if the complaint was made anonymously.
The complainant should be informed on the reasons of denial of accepting the complaint. On insistence of complainant - if he is dissatisfied – the case is considered at the Complaints Commission. PC makes the final decision.

5. Sending the complaint to the editorial for reply

A) If the problem is solved with negotiations, the case is closed and the Executive Secretary informs on this Chairman of PC. Written consent on reconciliation of the sides is necessary.

B) In failure of negotiations, the Executive Secretary prepares procedure of consideration at PC. By sending a letter, the relevant editorial is asked to answer on the complaint. Copies of documents of both sides are sent to each side. To keep in secret the negotiations with other side from another is unacceptable.
The sides answer all inquiries in the defined order, or in the period the Executive Secretary establishes. The editorials should send their answer to the PC not later than 10 days after they have got letters of the Executive Secretary. Should the answer not received the PC is authorized to continue investigation of the case.

6. Reply of the Editorial to PC

The answer received from the Editorials is sent to complainant. If:
a) the complainant is satisfied with the answer, the Executive Secretary closes the case and informs Chairman of PC;
b) if the Complainant is dissatisfied, the Executive Secretary prepares the case for consideration.

7. Hearings at the Complaints Commission

In this phase, all measures ate taken to consider the item at the Complaints Commission and the sides are informed on place and time of hearings which the PC deputy chairmen preside in rotation. After the time of hearings is established, in lack of special consent of the PC Chairman, acceptance of materials from any side concerning the case is suspended and copies of the received materials are presented to all members of the Commission. Participation of sides at the hearings is not obligatory. The Complainant, his natives and relatives, colleagues, heads of the organizations they work, may attend the process. Responsible persons of Editorial, if necessary, the author of the material may attend the hearings. Legal consultants are not allowed to attend the hearings.

The hearings are conducted in the order of round-table discussions. In this moment, members of the Commission cannot be presented any material. After the hearings, the Commission prepares written reference for PC. The Commission’s decision is presented to the PC within 3 days and is of recommendation character.

Note: if the sides come to consensus during the hearings, the case may be closed in this phase.

8. Adoption of decisions at PC

The Chairman (in his absence, one of his deputies) conducts sitting of PC. Open voting and majority of votes adopt the decision. Each member has one vote. In equity of votes, the Chairman’s vote is decisive. PC considers the cases and adopts relevant decision. The final decision may differ from the draft made by the Complaints Commission. Members of PC, on consent of Chairman, can take part at the sitting without right to vote. Contributor of the Editorial upon whom was made the complaint, if he is PC member, cannot take part at the voting. This rule also concerns other complaints connected to natives and relatives of PC members. The PC member should inform the Chairman on his relationship beforehand.

In the decision of PC, the claim may be partially ensured, or fully not ensured. The decision cannot include demand for any contribution, not consider invalid any contract, or the appellee cannot be obliged for any act. The only obligation is that the Editorial should, though not its favor, publish the decision.

9. Presenting PC decision to the sides

The PC decisions are sent to the sides by fax or in written form, and also disseminated in mass media. The decision cannot be published until PC specially allows it. It enables the Editorial upon whom was made complaint to publish the decision first. The Press Council preserves the right in which form to publicize its decisions.

10. Publishing the PC decisions

a) The PC decision is first published by the respondent Editorial, and then may be disseminated in other media organs.
In case of ensuring of the complaint, the responsible Edition should publish the PC decision in the nearest issue (the daily editions - within 3 days) as it is. Should the responsible edition not publish the decision during this period, then, PC publicizes it in the order it establishes.

b) The Complaints Commission prepares monthly report on publishing of the PC decisions. Should the responsible edition not published any decision, or published it with distortion the Commission prepares reference on relevant measure to be taken. PC makes appropriate decision on this reference.

11. Information channels of Press Council

PC publishes its decisions in all the quarterly news bulletins, as well as in other media organs it considers necessary, includes in the annual report and publicizes. All decisions are archive and their text is placed in the website.