On January 27 at the plenary winter session of Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe Recommendation 1897(2010), “Respect for Media Freedom”, was approved. Thus, Subpoint 11.5 of the Recommendation calls all the CoE member states, particularly, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, “to ensure fair and equal access of all political parties and candidates to the media before elections and pay particular attention to this issue when assessing future elections”. In Subpoint 11.7 PACE urges the RA Government to revise the amendments to the RA Law “On Television and Radio” (September 10, 2008), suspending the broadcast licensing competitions until July 2010. The Recommendation notes that these amendments were “passed as a countermeasure to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights” on the case of “A1+” TV company of June 17, 2008.
Several provisions of the Explanatory Memorandum of the “Respect for Media Freedom” report, presented on the session of PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education on January 6, 2010 (rapporteur – Andrew McIntosh), also regard the situation with Armenian media. Thus, the rapporteur emphasizes that “harassment of journalists and direct controls on the media intensified around the time of the February 2008 presidential election”, a number of journalists suffered assaults during the protest actions after the elections. As examples of attacks on journalists, the Memorandum cites the incidents with Hrach Melkumian, Acting Director of the Yerevan Bureau of the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (August 18, 2008), Edik Baghdasarian, Head of “Investigative Journalists” NGO (November 17, 2008), and Argishti Kivirian, Coordinator of ARMENIA Today news agency (April 30, 2009). During the 20 days long state of emergency, declared in Armenia after the presidential elections 2008, a strict censorship was imposed. Several media closed down rather than submit to it. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus all maintain tight state controls over the management and work of their TV companies, the Memorandum says. “Armenia is being strongly pressed to permit the popular independent TV channel “A1+”, whose broadcasting license was taken away in 2002”, to give a possibility for broadcast in line with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, the Explanatory Memorandum of the “Respect for Media Freedom” report emphasizes.