YPC Weekly Newsletter

2008


OSCE REPRESENTATIVE ON FREEDOM OF THE MEDIA: DIGITALIZATION SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO REDUCE DIVERSITY AND PLURALITY

On September 26, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti
asked the Government of Armenia to review the addition to the RA Law “On Television
and Radio” adopted on September 10 by the National Assembly of Armenia. As it
was reported, according to this addition, broadcast licensing competitions are
suspended till July 20, 2010. The amendment came into force on September 27
(see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September
5-11, 2008
, and September
12-18, 2008
).

In his letter to RA President Serge Sargsian, Miklos Haraszti in particular
pointed out: “By cutting off any potential applicant broadcasters from entering
the market until 2010, the limited pluralism in Armenia’s broadcasting sector
will be further diminished. A moratorium on new licenses for analogue transmission
should not be the first step in the transition to digital broadcasting. Digitalization
should not be allowed to reduce diversity and plurality or preserve a lack thereof.
If the broadcasting landscape in a country is not sufficiently pluralistic and
diverse, it would be appropriate to delay digitalization and undertake other
reforms first.”

In the opinion of Miklos Haraszti, moratorium on licensing meant that Armenia
will not be able to comply with the June 2008 decision of the European Court
of Human Rights that upheld the case of “A1+” TV company (see YPC Weekly Newsletter,
June 13-19, 2008). OSCE Representative also reminded that in
April 2008 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in its turn,
also urged Armenia to “ensure an open, fair and transparent licensing procedure”
and allow “A1+” to apply for a new license.

Miklos Haraszti offered his Office’s legal analysis and recommendations to
the amendments to the broadcasting law: “I hope that, for the sake of pluralism,
the Government of Armenia will review the amendments with the active participation
of all relevant civil society and media stakeholders.”