On October 6 the Global Campaign for Free Expression “Article 19” expressed
its concern about the addition to the RA Law “On Television and Radio” adopted
on September 10, 2008 by the RA National Assembly. It is suspending broadcast
licensing competitions till July 20, 2010 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September
5-11, 2008). Statement of “Article 19” points out that the adopted amendments
are directed against “A1+” TV company, contrary to the decision of European
Court of Human Rights regarding the case of “A1+” and pronounced on July 17,
2008. It also contradicts to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights
and Fundamental Freedom – both conventions are ratified by Armenia and guarantee
freedom of expression. “Article 19” called on the authorities in Armenia “to
lift the moratorium on the licensing procedure and to ensure that “A1+” participates
in an open, transparent and fair tender prior to the planned digital switchover”.
Meanwhile on October 8 RA Government approved another draft law on amendments
to the RA Law “On Television and Radio”. It regards the same abovementioned
addition to Article 59 of the broadcast Law. The Government offers to allow
not only TV companies (as stipulated by now), but also radio companies, whose
licenses expire before January 21, 2011, to request prolongation of the license
from the National Commission on Television and Radio.
Besides, the governmental draft law provides for abolishing limitation on Public
TV and Radio Company broadcasting in the languages of national minorities. According
to Article 28 of the acting Law “On Television and Radio”, duration of programs
in the languages of national minorities is limited to 1 hour a week for the
public television, and 1 hour a day – for the public radio.