YPC Weekly Newsletter

2006


THE DEPUTIES DO NOT WANT TO GIVE UP THE PTA AIR TIME

On September 11-14, the first four days of the RA National Assembly autumn
session, the deputies, among other issues, discussed two draft laws about the
National Assembly Regulations. One of them, the package of amendments to the
acting RA Law “RA NA Regulations”, has been developed by a number of deputies,
representing various political forces. The other, a completely new draft, has
been developed by the parliament faction of the United Labor Party. The hearings
resulted in a resolution of voting on the two documents at the coming four-day
session.

The discussions held referred to the coverage of the parliament activities
by the Public Television of Armenia. Notably, according to the RA NA Regulations,
adopted on February 20, 2002, the sessions devoted to the statements of the
deputies and the questions and answers of the Government are recorded and aired
by the Public Television (PTA First Channel) on Wednesdays at 21.30. The mandatory
broadcasting, on specific days and times, of parliamentary programs on PTA is
stipulated in the draft Regulations above.

The problem of PTA coverage of parliamentary activities was raised in March
2006, when the Chairman of the Council of Public TV and Radio Company Alexan
Harutiunian addressed the NA Chairman with a proposal to reconsider the relations
between the TV company and the Parliament. The offer was due to the controversial
situation in which PTRC found itself, having become a full-fledged member of
the European Broadcasting Union in July 2005: on the one hand, the statutes
of this organization commit the national broadcaster to editorial independence
and the right to use the air time as it pleases; on the other, the legislation
in force actually blocks the adherence to these conditions (see details in YPC
Weekly Newsletter, March 17-23,
2006
).

The opinion of the Government regarding the draft laws was voiced by the RA
Minister of Justice David Harutiunian. In particular, in his interview to Panorama.am
news portal (September 13, 2006) David Harutiunian said: “It (the Public Television
ed. note) must be a truly independent TV company
and be able to decide itself what to show to the public. This in no way excludes
the existence of a special TV channel that would be able to, say, broadcast
the Parliament proceedings 24 hours a day.”