On October 21 and 22 at the session of the National Assembly of Armenia a discussion of the draft law on introducing amendments to the RA Law “On Television and Radio” was held. The draft is the initiative of six NA deputies, and was presented to the Assembly by the member of the faction of the Republican Party of Armenia Vazgen Khachikian.
A number of provisions of the document caused the negative assessment of the journalistic community, in particular: the simplified procedure for the decision making of the National Commission on Television and Radio; retaining the compositions of the National Commission and the Council of Public TV and Radio Company in case the provisions of the broadcast law on the formation of these bodies are changed; additional terms for the broadcast license deprivation.
NA Vice Speaker Tigran Torosian answering the opponents of the draft cited that the majority of the amendments are made in accordance with the recommendations of the Council of Europe experts. Yet, as the proposals on amending the Law “On Television and Radio”, submitted on October 14 to the Parliament by the working group on media legislation (formed on the initiative of the OSCE Office in Yerevan) note, when making amendments all the recommendations of the CE experts must be taken into account. Meanwhile, the draft in question covered only some, mostly secondary points of the CE evaluation. Being taken out of the context, these points will aggravate the Law instead of improving. However, the proposals of the working group were ignored by the authors of the amendments.
In the opinion of the member of the parliament faction of the opposition “Justice” bloc Shavarsh Kocharian, the draft submitted for the NA consideration actually legalizes the violations of the National Commission on Television and Radio.
As the local and foreign experts think, the amendments should first of all be introduced to the provisions of the Law “On Television and Radio”, which define the procedure of forming the broadcast regulating bodies. In particular, the guarantees of their independence should be strengthened. Yet the amendment draft does not in anyway touch upon this issue.
The voting on the draft is to take place at the next three-day session of the Parliament.