On April 2, eight years have passed since “A1+” TV company was deprived of the right to air as a result of a refusal of broadcast license. Since 2002 “A1+” has participated in 12 competitions, held by the National Commission on Television and Radio, and every time the bids of the TV company were scored lower than the ones of its rivals.
On April 2, 2010 International Federation of Human Rights, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, Yerevan Press Club, Internews Media Support NGO, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, Armenian Helsinki Committee, Foundation against Violation of Law, Civil Society Institute released a statement, noting that after April 2, 2002 the broadcasters started to work more cautiously and that a hidden censorship is applied in Armenia, by using economic and tax leverage, as well as political pressure. The signatories mentioned that the European Court of Human Rights in its decision of June 17, 2008 on the suit of the “A1+” founder, “Meltex” LLC, versus Republic of Armenia ruled that Article 10 of European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms had been violated, i.e. the right of “A1+” to freely impart information and ideas. Nevertheless, on September 10, 2008 RA National Assembly suspended the broadcast licensing competitions for two years, by enacting the amendments to the RA Law “On Television and Radio”. This became an obstacle for implementing the ruling of ECHR.
On March 4, 2010 the Committee of Ministers of Council of Europe, by addressing the issue of the enforcement of the ECHR decision on the case of “A1+”, stressed that “detailed information on the developments regarding the remedies pursued by the applicant before the competent national judicial authorities is awaited”, emphasized the statement. Besides, in its Recommendation 1897(2010), “Respect for Media Freedom”, endorsed on January 27, 2010, the Parliamentary Assembly of CoE called upon the Armenian Government to revise the amendments to the Law “On Television and Radio”, passed on September 10, 2008.
The human rights and journalistic organizations urged the Armenian authorities to create conditions that will guarantee the freedom of expression in Armenia. Particularly, to provide impartiality and transparency of future broadcast licensing competitions and hereby to ensure well-founded and justified decisions by National Commission on Television and Radio, which will restore public trust.