On November 12 at the RA Ministry of Justice discussions of draft law "On Mass Communication", approved by the Government on November 7, were held (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, November 2-8, 2002). The first version of the draft law was rejected by the journalistic community and the provisions causing most of concern were eliminated from the new edition. In particular, the requirement of licensing communication activities, the provision about the establishment of a state supervisory body were abolished.
At the same time, in the opinion of the representatives of media and journalistic associations participating in the discussion, many of the articles of the draft are still in the need of significant revision. Several organizations, including Yerevan Press Club, introduced their proposals in this regard. In particular, as YPC experts believe, the draft law gives an excessively expansive definition of a "mass communication medium". It does not stipulate guarantees against censorship application. Also, the cases that allow for restricting the freedom of speech are presented vaguely. In the opinion of YPC, Articles 8 ("The unacceptability of freedom of speech abuse") and 13 ("The transparency of funding sources and the disclosure of influences") must be removed from the text completely. YPC suggested including a point which would prohibit monopolies in the media and establishment of state-owned media. It was also suggested to introduce changes into the RA Code "On Administrative Offences", according to which penalties for those who will impede the publication and the dissemination of media, as well as refuse to give information to the media, if not stipulated otherwise by the law, will be defined.
The head of the task force, the RA Deputy Minister of Justice Ashot Abovian promised to work on the document considering the remarks and comments made and to discuss it with the journalists again before the document is directed to the consideration of RA National Assembly.