On October 2 at the RA National Assembly discussion of the Draft Law “On introducing amendments to the RA Law ’On Television and Radio’”, which had passed the first hearing on September 12 , was held (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 8-14, 2001).
The discussion was organized by the NA Committee on Science, Education, Culture and Youth Issues. The Chairman of the Parliament Committee on State and Legal Issues Viktor Dallakian, members of the National Commission on Television and Radio, representatives of private TV and radio companies and journalistic associations were invited to take part in the discussion. The conversation was centered around the objections made by the National Commission to the introduction of the amendments mentioned above, in particular, those referring to the abolishment of licenses for TV and radio production. As the discussion revealed, the Chairman of the National Commission on Television and Radio Grigor Amalian offers a completely new approach to the regulation of broadcasting. By “broadcasting” he understands solely the dissemination of the radio signal and, therefore, suggests that broadcast licenses be given only to the organizations that perform this function. Meanwhile, the TV and radio companies, engaged in developing and releasing of programs must, in the opinion of Grigor Amalian, be licensed for production.
However, this approach contradicts the core of the whole acting RA Law “On Television and Radio” as it stipulates that a broadcast license can be held by a company which not only has technical facilities but also a specific programming policy. In other words, it is not pure signal dissemination that is understood by “broadcasting”, but also its content. The production license, according to the Law, is envisaged for individuals and legal entities who, possessing no air (frequency) of their own, produce video, audio programs, stories, etc. This very license was objected to by journalistic community both during the discussions of the broadcast draft law and after its adoption. It is this type of licensing that was suggested for abolishment also by the experts of the Council of Europe.
Considering these circumstances, the majority of the discussion participants supported the amendments that had passed the first hearing. The leadership of the National Commission on Television and Radio retained their opinion.
This was the first occasion when the representatives of the “fourth estate” found themselves unanimous with the Parliament members – in the whole history of the unceasing debates around the Broadcast Law.