YPC Weekly Newsletter

2005


MONITORING OF INTERNEWS ARMENIA: HOW PRIVATE TV COMPANIES ABIDE THE LAW

In the previous issue (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 2-8, 2005) we informed the readers about the discussion titled “RA Legislation on Television and Radio and the Regulation Practice” held on December 8, presenting the findings of the research administered by Internews Armenia with support of Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation Armenia. Herein the results of the study are introduced in detail.

The research of Internews Armenia based on the monitoring of 22 Armenian TV channels. It aimed at determining the extent of the adherence of Armenian TV companies to the broadcast legislation in force, in particular, the RA Law “On Television and Radio” and the RA Law “On Advertising” – by obtaining and analyzing quantitative data.

Monitoring covered TV channels that conformed to the following parameters: national and local channels, broadcasting in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor; being a part of the Public Television of Armenia (PTA); operating by a license issued by the National Commission on Television and Radio; producing or airing Armenia-made programming.

Thus, the research object were: 4 national TV companies – PTA First Channel, “ALM”, “Armenia”, Second Armenian TV Channel; 13 Yerevan TV companies – “Nor Alik” (PTA), “Hayrenik” (rebroadcasts also the programs of French “Mezzo”), “Hay TV”, “AR”, “ARMENAKOB”, “ArmNews” (rebroadcasts also the programs of “EuroNews”), “Dar 21” (rebroadcasts also the programs of Russian MuzTV), “Yerevan” (rebroadcasts also the programs of Russian TVC), “Yerkir-Media”, “Kentron”, TV 5 (rebroadcasts also MTV programs), “Shant”, “Shoghakat”; 3 Gyumri TV companies – “Shirak”, “Tsayg”, “Shant”; 2 Vanadzor TV companies – “Interkap” (rebroadcasts also the programs of Russian REN TV), “Lori”.

The whole airtime of the TV channels above was studied during a week. A part of the TV companies was monitored on May 30 – June 5, while the rest were monitored on June 6-12, 2005.

The information obtained in the course of the monitoring was analyzed by the legal officers of Internews with respect to the legal regulation and the mechanisms of practical application of the broadcast laws.

The conclusions below refer to 19 channels studied. As to the Public Television of Armenia (First Channel, “Nor Alik” and “Shirak”), the findings of the monitoring of these TV channels will be a starting point for further research on public broadcasting.

Daily broadcast volume. Paragraph 2 of Article 52 of the RA Law “On Television and Radio” lists the information to be contained in the broadcast license and to be provided by the National Commission on Television and Radio. This information includes the time of TV and radio program production during the day. The monitoring showed that of 19 studied private TV companies 9 did not provided the broadcasting volume stipulated by their licenses, and 4 – exceeded this volume.

The volume of Armenia-made programming. According to Article 9 of the Law “On Television and Radio”, the share of Armenia-made programming in the overall broadcast volume of the TV channel must not be less than 65%. The monitoring showed that 14 private TV companies studied violated this provision. Only 5 TV companies had more than 65% of Armenia-made programming, for the rest this parameter was less than the requirement of the law was. The highest share of Armenia-made programming was 92%, the smallest – 12%.

The programs having gesture-translation were recorded for one channel only.

The volume of the self-made programming. The law does not regulate the issue of self-made programming. Its share in the Armenia-made programming is specified for each company by the competition (licensing) terms. The comparison of the competition bids of the TV companies with the findings of the monitoring allow stating that all 19 TV companies studied comply with this requirement of the license.

Language of the programming. According to Article 5 of the Law “On Television and Radio”, the language of the TV and radio programs, broadcast on the territory of Armenia, is Armenian, but for the cases provided for by the law. The TV and radio programs, films, motion pictures, documentaries and cartoons in foreign languages as well as foreign language episodes in Armenian-language programs are aired with a simultaneous translation into Armenia – in sound or by subtitles. The TV and radio foreign language courses, as well as songs and works of other musical genres can be aired without Armenian translation. This demand does not cover, either, the TV and radio programs broadcast for foreign countries or aired in the languages of national minorities. The results of the study showed that this provision, as a rule, is not met by the 19 private broadcasters studied: 7 TV companies had 50-72% of daily airtime allocated to programming in Armenian language, 2 TV companies had 87.4% and 91%, for the rest this figure did not reach even 50% (the lowest share was 11%).

Erotic programs and horror films. Article 24 of the Law “On Television and Radio” listed the cases of unacceptable abuse of TV and radio programs, also, its last paragraph makes a reservation: TV and radio programs of erotic nature and horror films, as well as programs that can make any negative influence on the mental and physical development, moral education of minors, must be aired from 24.00 till 6.00 but for the coded TV and radio programs. According to the findings of the research, the provision was broken by only one TV company, on the 2nd, 4th and 5th monitoring day – once for each day.

Rebroadcast of programming of foreign broadcasters. According to paragraph 2 Article 10 of the Law “On Television and Radio”, the licensed TV and radio companies of Armenia can rebroadcast programs of foreign TV and radio companies by an agreement, adhering to provisions of Articles 5 and 9 of the Law, the terms of licensing and having notified in writing the National Commission on Television and Radio. The monitoring findings showed that out of 19 studied private broadcasters, 7 made rebroadcasting of foreign TV company programs. The daily duration of these ranged from 2.6 to 14.8 hours. The researchers did not verify the ownership of agreements and written notifications by the broadcasters.

The volume of advertising in 24 hours and in every hour of air time. According to Article 9 of the RA Law “On Advertising”, on TV and radio channels in every air hour the duration of advertising must not exceed 10 minutes, or 240 minutes during 24 hours. The monitoring did not reveal violations on this requirement by the TV companies studied. At the same time in every single hour of air time 15 TV companies exceeded the legal advertising limit 276 times. Only three of the TV companies studied kept to the legal stipulation. Each channel had at least three, five, eight cases of violation. In total, for 19 TV companies the latter ones came to an average of 14.5.

Public service announcements. According to Article 13 of the Law “On Advertising”, the volume of public service announcements should be not less than 5% of the overall annual air time. In other words, taking into account the air time of each TV company, this volume may differ depending on its competition terms and the bid. The monitoring showed that during the study period 8 TV companies did not air public service announcements. However, it is not possible to determine the conformity of public service announcement volume annually during the one-week study, since it required not only complicated mathematical modeling but also forecasting the programming policy of the broadcasters.

Advertising of strong alcoholic beverages and tobacco. According to Article 15 of the Law “On Advertising”, the electronic media are prohibited from advertising tobacco products and strong alcoholic beverages (containing over 20% of spirits) but for brandy. The findings of the monitoring showed that of 19 private TV companies studied only 8 conformed to the requirement of the law.

Advertising of lotteries and gambling. By the criterion of the total duration of the advertising of lotteries and gambling in 24 hours of airtime the monitoring recorded only one violation by one TV company, which exceeded the 9-minute limit for such advertising in 24 hours more than 2.5 times.