YPC Weekly Newsletter

2008


“А1+” RECEIVES MONETARY COMPENSATION BUT STILL REMAINS OFF AIR

On November 6 the government of Armenia made a decree to allocate to the RA
Ministry of Justice 30,000 euros to fulfill the judgment of the European Court
of Human Rights (released on June 17, 2008) on the case of the founder of “A1+”
TV company, “Meltex” LLC, and its President Mesrop Movsesian versus Republic
of Armenia. The ECHR recognized that in regard to “A1+” there was a violation
of the right of the applicant to freely impart information and ideas stipulated
by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
(“Freedom of Expression”). Thus, the failure to grant a broadcast license to
“A1+”, taking part in numerous competitions since 2002, was recognized to be
a violation of international commitments by Armenia. The ECHR committed the
Republic of Armenia to paying “Meltex” LLC 30,000 euros within three months
after the enforcement of the judgment: 20 thousand in respect of non-pecuniary
damage and 10 thousand in respect of costs and expenses incurred.

In the statement, released by Yerevan Press Club on June 18, 2008, there was
an appeal to “the competent bodies of RA not to confine to the monetary compensation,
stipulated by the ruling of the European Court, but to adopt, in accordance
with the legislation of the country, prompt measures to enable the TV company
to come back on air as soon as possible”.

On June 18 the Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis characterized
the decision of the European Court on “A1+” case as “a victory for freedom of
expression” called “to serve as a lesson to all governments inclined to arbitrary
interpretations of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which
guarantees this essential freedom”. “The decision of the European Court of Human
Rights brings an end to the long drawn-out saga about the refusal of the Armenian
authorities to award a broadcasting license to the “A1+” television station”,
stressed Terry Davis (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 13-19, 2008).

Resolution 1620, approved by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
on June 25, 2008, stressed the necessity of “a pluralistic electronic media
environment in Armenia” and called upon the National Commission on Television
and Radio to “ensure an open, fair and transparent licensing procedure, in line
with the guidelines, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of
Europe on March 26, 2008, and with the case law of the European Court of Human
Rights” (see YPC Weekly Newsletter,
June 20-26, 2008
).

Meanwhile, on September 10, 2008, RA National Assembly in an extraordinary
regime adopted the addition to the RA Law “On Television and Radio”, according
to which broadcast licensing competitions are suspended till July 20, 2010,
connected with expected digitalization in Armenia. The addition drafted by the
RA Government was evaluated by a number of journalistic associations as “another
proof that its initiatives in media domain are aimed not at ensuring the constitutional
right to free receipt and dissemination of information, not at the improvement
of the domain, not at the implementation of the commitments to the Council of
Europe and recommendations of PACE resolutions, but at retaining and strengthening
the total control over broadcasters, currently practiced” (see YPC Weekly Newsletter,
September 5-11, 2008).

On September 26, on the eve of moratorium on broadcast licensing coming into
force, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklos Haraszti asked
the Government of Armenia to review the adopted decision meaning that Armenia
will not be able to comply with the decision of the European Court that upheld
the case of “A1+”. OSCE Representative also reminded that in April 2008 the
PACE, in its turn, also urged Armenia to “ensure an open, fair and transparent
licensing procedure” and allow “A1+” to apply for a new license (see YPC Weekly
Newsletter, September 26 –
October 2, 2008
). On October 6 the Global Campaign for Free Expression “Article
19” made a similar address (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, October
3-9, 2008
).

No one responded to these appeals: licensing competitions are suspended for
two years. “А1+” is getting the monetary compensation, but is still kept off
air. The optimistic forecast of the CE Secretary General is not coming true
yet: the saga goes on…