YPC Weekly Newsletter

2007


AUTHORITIES INTERVENING WITH THE EDITORIAL POLICY OF BROADCAST MEDIA

On October 19 Yerevan Press Club, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression,
“Asparez” Journalist’s Club of Gyumri, Vanadzor Press Club, Helsinki Committee
of Armenia, Vanadzor Office of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly released the following
statement:

“We, the public organizations, express our concern over the negative and
unacceptable developments that have been recently observed with regard to freedom
of expression. The print media have been reporting that for several days already
correspondents of broadcast media do not come to press conferences, organized
at various press clubs. A supposition was made that this attitude is imposed
by various power agencies. We realize that media do not have to cover all press
conferences; however, the simultaneous and unanimous display of indifference
to events of public importance only comes to confirm the version of intervention
by “invisible hand”.

We receive alarming information that over the past week heads of private TV
companies were invited to various agencies, where they were “persuaded” to ignore
the public events, appearances of certain opposition figures, not to invite
them to studios, not to interview them and not to show them on air. In particular,
the TV companies have received a “recommendation” not to cover (either positively
or negatively) the rally of a number of political forces, scheduled for October
26.

We remind that impeding the legitimate professional activities of journalists
is a criminal offence. Moreover, Clause 2 of Article 164 of the RA Criminal
Code refers to the commitment of the same offence by an official, using his/her
position.

Having no common political preferences or dislikes, all of us think it to be
an urgent necessity that information and opinions be disseminated freely, in
particular, ahead of presidential elections, and we call on authorities to abstain
from interfering with the editorial policy of media, primarily the broadcasters,
since it irreparably damages the freedom of expression and pluralism as cornerstone
principles of democracy”, the statement of six NGOs said.

On October 22 the statement of the founder of “GALA” TV company of Gyumri Vahan
Khachatrian was disseminated. The statement was prompted by attempts of various
power agencies to exert pressure on the TV company that had occurred over the
past week.

The statement of Vahan Khachatrian says in particular: “Dear compatriots, every
TV company owner must first of all realize that television is not a private
but a public asset.

The medium is to give impartial and diverse coverage of all processes in the
society. It must introduce the public to the whole spectrum of political processes
equally, allowing people to make its own conclusions.

The Independent News Channel of Gyumri (“GALA” is the abbreviation of the Armenian
name of the TV company – Ed. note) was established and formed on the basis of
these very principles and throughout its two-year activities remains loyal to
these principles.

I would like to stress that the stance of “GALA” TV company will not change
in future either, and I, as the company owner, would be stopping any attempts
of intervention made by any structures or persons.”