On September 24 the National Assembly of Armenia passed the draft law "On Mass Communication" in the first hearing. As it has been reported, the draft was submitted to the consideration of the Parliament in late March this year, however, it failed to score the sufficient number of votes (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 5-11, 2003).
The first edition of the draft, developed by the RA Ministry of Justice and approved by the Government on February 7 last year, became the subject of unanimous criticism of the journalistic community. Further on, with the active participation of Yerevan Press Club, the Journalists Union of Armenia and Internews Armenia significant changes were introduced into it.
However, the organization named as well as the Committee to Protect the Freedom of Expression still have several principal objections to a number of provisions of the draft "On Mass Communication", passed in the first hearing. These objections refer in particular to the need to change the notion of "mass communication medium", the unacceptability of the establishment of media by the state administration bodies, ensurance of stronger guarantees for information source protection, etc. At the same time, it is still possible to introduce amendments. On September 23 the RA NA Speaker Arthur Baghdasarian assured that the period between the first and second hearings of the draft will make a month, and, therefore, the document can be improved taking into account the existing suggestions.
On September 23-24, the days when the draft was being considered and voted, the National Press Club was picketing the houses of Parliament. Having called on the deputies to block the official draft, the organization demanded to accept for consideration the alternative draft it authored. This document was submitted to the NA leadership a day before voting, and neither the representatives of the journalistic community nor the deputies are familiar with it so far.
On September 24 Yerevan Press Club, Journalists Union of Armenia and Internews Armenia gave a press-conference at which they reinstated their position on the draft law "On Mass Communication".