YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


FOUNDER OF “A1+” DEMANDS THE COURT OF CASSATION TO RECONSIDER ITS RULINGS

On December 19, 2008 the founder of “A1+” TV company, “Meltex” LLC, addressed the RA Court of Cassation with a demand to review the rulings of this judicial body of February 27, 2004 and April 23, 2004 on suits of “Meltex” versus National Commission on Television and Radio – taking into account new circumstance. As it has been reported, in February 27, 2004 the Court of Cassation left unchanged the ruling of the RA Commercial Court of January 21, that did not secure the demand of “Meltex” to annul the decision of the National Commission on Television and Radio to grant “Cinemax” LLC a broadcast license for 63rd UHF of Yerevan (claimed also by “A1+” TV company). On April 23, 2004 the Court of Cassation left in force the ruling of the Commercial Court of March 23 that refused the suit of “Meltex” on providing the company with specific justification of the refusals to grant it a license in competitions held on June 11 and July 18, 2003 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 27 – March 4, 2004 and April 23-29, 2004).

As YPC was told by one of the “A1+” attorneys, Ara Ghazarian, the new circumstance noted above was the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of June 17, 2008 on the suit of “A1+” founder and its President Mesrop Movsisian versus Republic of Armenia. As it has been reported, the refusals to grant “Meltex” a broadcast license were recognized to be a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, i.e., of the right of the applicant to freely impart information and ideas. The ECHR noted that the Armenian broadcasting legislation stipulates a number of criteria to determine the winner of the broadcast licensing competition, but at that time it did not explicitly require that the licensing body give reasons for the decision made. In other words, National Commission simply announced the competition winner, without giving any reasons why that applicant was chosen over “Meltex” LLC. In the opinion of the ECHR, the licensing procedure which did not require a licensing body to justify its decisions did not provide adequate protection against arbitrary interference by a public authority with the fundamental right to freedom of expression. In its decision the European Court also recalls the guidelines adopted by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers in the domain of broadcasting regulation, which called for open and transparent application of the regulations governing licensing procedures and specifically recommended that “all decisions taken (…) by the regulatory authorities (…) be (…) duly reasoned”. The judgment also quotes the PACE Resolution on Armenia of January 27, 2004, which concluded that “the vagueness of the law in force had resulted in (National Commission on Television and Radio) being given outright discretionary powers” (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 13-19, 2008).

According to Ara Ghazarian, no response of the Court of Cassation on starting a new litigation or refusing the suit has been received within the timeframes stipulated by the law.