YPC Weekly Newsletter

2006


PARLIAMENT IS UNWILLING TO RECONSIDER RELATIONS WITH PUBLIC TV

In media discussions on the relations between the Council of Public TV and Radio Company and RA National Assembly continue. As it has been reported, the Chairman of the Council of PTRC Alexan Harutiunian sent a written address to Speaker of the Parliament Arthur Baghdasarian with a proposal to reconsider the Rules of Procedure of RA National Assembly. According to the latter, the Public TV (the PTA First Channel – Ed.) is to broadcast parliamentary programs on a concrete day and time fixed by the National Assembly. In the opinion of the head of the Council of PTRC, this legal obligation creates a contradiction with the charter of the European Broadcasting Union, of which Public TV and Radio Company has been a full member since July 2005. Namely, there is a violation of the principle of editorial independence and the right to use the air on their own discretion (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 17-23, 2006).

The letter of the Chairman of the Council of PTRC was considered at the meeting of the Speaker of Parliament with the representatives of parliamentary factions and groups. At the meeting it was decided that there will be no amendments to the Rules of Procedure of RA National Assembly as to the broadcasting of the parliamentary programs.

In the interview to “Aravot” daily (March 28, 2006), titled “The NA Forces Want Promotional Privileges for Themselves?”, Alexan Harutiunian reminded that the necessity to reconsider the legal provisions is conditioned not by his personal initiative but by the requirement of the Constitution and the European criteria of press freedom. “The deputies admitted that they are against this proposal since elections are coming, and this argument meets my statement that there is a gross violation of our editorial independence. It is unacceptable that any political force, moreover a state body, attempt to legally endorse their own privileges on air not only of the Public but also any other TV company”, head of the Council of PTRC emphasized. Alongside this, Alexan Harutiunian proposed new solutions. In particular, he thinks that the relevant amendments to the law may be introduced already today, specifying, however, that they will be enforced after the elections. He also expressed willingness to make an agreement with the National Assembly even right now for broadcasting the parliamentary programs under the same conditions as stipulated by the law, so that the current restrictions be removed from the NA Rules of Procedure.

At the April 4 press conference, National Assembly Speaker Arthur Baghdasarian explained the decision of the parliamentary forces not to amend the Rules of Procedure also proceeding from the “international experience”. “In particular, the rules of procedure of Moldova, Lithuania, Italy and other countries clearly stipulate for the manner of broadcasting the parliamentary agenda. (…) It would be fine if we had our own TV channel, similarly to Russia, France and other countries. However, considering that this is pre-election year, and all types of talks, debates and speculations are likely (…), we unanimously decided not to return to this problem”, Speaker of RA National Assembly said.