YPC Weekly Newsletter

2007


AMENDMENTS TO THE BROADCAST SPHERE FAILED OWING TO ONE VOTE

On July 3, on the last day of the extraordinary session of the RA National
Assembly, a voting on package of draft laws “On Introducing Amendment to the
RA Law ‘On Television and Radio’” and “On introducing an Addition to the RA
Law ‘On State Duty’” in the second hearing was made. The amendments to the broadcasting
sphere, proposed by the Government of Armenia, were not adopted due to quorum
absence: 65 deputies took part in the voting (63 – “for”, 2 – abstained),
whereas 66 votes (more than half) are necessary for quorum. Thus, owing to one
vote lacking the draft laws were turned down, after having raised strong criticism
of a number of NGOs, also journalistic associations, and political parties.
These legislative initiatives of the Government were qualified as an attempt
to stop the broadcasts of the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
and to restrict the freedom of expression. As reported, the amendment to Article
26 of Law “On Television and Radio”, adopted on June 29 in the first hearing,
proposed to prohibit the activities of other broadcasters on the frequencies
of public TV and radio company, and the addition into Article 19 of the Law
“On State Duty” provided a state duty of 70,000 drams (over $ 200) to be imposed
on “each issuance of a program cycle of the national editorial office or a service
of a foreign media by the TV and Radio companies of the Republic of Armenia”
(see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, June
22-29, 2007
).

On June 29 “Human Rights Watch” international organization urged the Armenian
parliament not to adopt the two draft laws “that would effectively ban future
broadcasts” of Radio Liberty – “a key source of independent information” in
Armenia. On June 30 the President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Jeffrey
Gedmin expressed the hope that “Armenia’s parliamentarians will reconsider
their support” for the drafts directed against the broadcasts of the Armenian
Service of Radio Liberty on the waves of public radio.

On July 2 in Yerevan a protest action against the amendments proposed by the
Government was held. The representatives of NGOs, including journalistic associations,
held a rally on the Freedom Square and then made a march to the building of
the National Assembly.

On July 2 the Spokesman of the US Department of State Sean McCormack expressed
the deep concern of the US foreign office in relation with any legislative changes
that would restrict the abilities of Radio Liberty to broadcast in Armenia.