YPC Weekly Newsletter

2005


LICENSING THREATENING TO RESULT IN MONOPOLY

On December 6 at the House of Journalist the press-conference of Yerevan Press
Club, Journalists Union of Armenia, Internews Armenia and the Committee to Protect
Freedom of Expression was held. The reason for the meeting with the journalists
was the alarming signals from private press dissemination agencies. Recently
these agencies have been visited by tax inspectors who demand to be shown the
license for disseminating newspapers and magazines by subscription, referring
to corresponding provisions of the RA Law “On Postal Communication” (adopted
on December 14, 2004) and RA Law “On Licensing”. Meanwhile, these provisions
came as a surprise not only to the disseminating agencies, but also to media,
journalistic associations who were not aware that the activities that were not
previously subject to licensing must now be licensed.

In the opinions of professional organizations and lawyers, this runs contrary
to Article 10 of European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,
Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 24 of the acting
or Article 27 of the renewed Constitution of Armenia. There are also inner controversies
with the Law “On Licensing”, a provision of which stipulates that the licensing
of the activities of the economic subjects must primarily contribute to the
market development.

According to the legislation in force, to obtain a license to disseminate print
media by subscription a fee is defined of 5 million AMD (over $ 11 thousand),
which is a burden, impossible to shoulder for small private agencies. Moreover,
for the absence of the license a fine on disseminating agencies may be imposed,
amounting to 50% of their annual turnovers. The fulfillment of these financial
liabilities will bring almost all disseminating agencies to bankruptcy, and
a couple of major companies will thus dominate the market. In other words, there
may be a serious threat of monopolization of subscription dissemination market.

The representatives of journalistic associations announced at the press-conference
about their readiness to address the corresponding power bodies, including the
RA National Assembly, demanding to revise the legislative provisions, restricting
the dissemination of print media by subscription in case this is not done by
the RA Ministry of Transportation and Communication itself that has developed
and initiated the adoption of the Law “On Postal Communication”.