On April 24, at the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg the issue of freedom of expression and information in European media was considered. The report was made by Hungarian Deputy Mr. Gyula Hegyi (PACE Committee on Culture, Science and Education).
In his lengthy report Mr. Hegyi, in particular, expressed concern over the fact that in many European countries which publicly declare their attachment to freedom of expression and which have indeed made significant progress in this respect over the last years, journalists can still be sent to prison under the existing legislation for the opinions that they have expressed. Among the instances of such countries Armenia was named along with Azerbaijan, Greece, Romania and Ukraine.
As to the situation in electronic media of Armenia, the report mentioned the RA Law “On Television and Radio” adopted in October, 2000, the draft version of which was much criticized by the experts of the Council of Europe, inter alia because it gave the President of the country too much power over the broadcasting media. For example, the President alone decides who are the members of the Council of the Public Television and Radio, and of the National Commission on Television and Radio that is to regulate the private broadcasting sector.
PACE adopted a resolution based on the report and the subsequent debates. The resolution voices concern over the serious and unacceptable breaches by many European countries of the media’s freedom of expression and information, despite their commitment as members of the CE to ensuring respect for freedom of opinion.