YPC Weekly Newsletter

2006


HEAD OF “MIG” DENIES PRESSURE ON TV COMPANY

On October 5 the press service of “Orinats Yerkir” party released a statement
with regard to the interview of the party Chairman, former Parliament Speaker
Artur Baghdasarian to “MIG” TV company (Vanadzor, Lori Region). The piece was
to go on air in the evening of October 7, yet, as the statement said, the head
of “MIG” informed that the interview will not be aired. In the opinion of “Orinats
Yerkir”, this is a case of pre-censorship and pressure on TV company. “Orinats
Yerkir” condemned “the artificial obstacles put against it”, qualifying the
incident as a restriction of freedom of expression, from which “neither media,
nor politicians and parties are protected”. The press also published the opinion
of the RA National Assembly deputy of “Orinats Yerkir” faction Heghine Bisharian,
noting that there is information, according to which the broadcasting of Artur
Baghdasarian’s interview was impeded by the Governor of Lori Region Henrik Kochinian.

“MIG” Director Samvel Harutiunian, on his behalf, announced no pressure was
exerted on the TV company by the regional administration. As the head of Vanadzor
TV company told YPC, the initiative of a paid 30-minute interview with Artur
Baghdasarian and further occasional coverage of the party activities on “MIG”
air came from “Orinats Yerkir” itself. According to Samvel Harutiunian, after
viewing the recording he had objections regarding the critical remarks Artur
Baghdasarian made to the address of Lori administration and journalists of another
regional TV company, “Lori”. Besides, Samvel Harutiunian noted, the interview
contained explicit political promotion, for which “MIG” could have been subjected
to penalizing sanctions, as stipulated by Article 79 of the RA Law “Regulations
of the National Commission on Television and Radio”. For this reason, “MIG”
head stressed, he himself – with no outside pressure – started negotiations
with “Orinats Yerkir” representatives on removal of some fragments that he deemed
unacceptable from the piece. As a result, Samvel Harutiunian said, an agreement
was made with “Orinats Yerkir” only regarding cutting off the criticism of regional
administration, on other points of dispute no consensus was reached by the parties,
and he decided to take the interview off the air.

Article 79 of “Regulations of NCTR” that Samvel Harutiunian is making a reference
to stipulates a fine for “broadcasting promotional programs during a period
when promotion is prohibited by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia about
elections and referenda”. Meanwhile, according clause 5 of Article 18 of the
acting Election Code, pre-election promotion is prohibited on the ballot day
and the preceding day. In other words, Article 79 at this point cannot be considered
an obstacle for promotional programs on air, because the next elections (to
the Parliament) are scheduled for spring 2007.

Samvel Harutiunian promised to provide Yerevan Press Club with the record of
Artur Baghdasarian’s interview to “MIG” TV company for expert assessment.