On February 2 at “Congress” hotel in Yerevan RA Human Rights Defender Armen Harutiunian presented his annual report on the activities of the Defender and the human rights and fundamental freedoms violations in Armenia in 2010. One of the report sections deals with freedom of expression. It reflects the main provisions of the Ombudsman’s ad-hoc public report, “Right to Freedom of Expression in the Republic of Armenia”, released on July 7, 2010 and containing an analysis of the media legislation.
Armen Harutiunian reminded that since the 2003 adoption of the RA Law “On Freedom of Information” and as of today, the Government has not elaborated any bylaws, stipulated by Articles 5 and 10. This regards the order of granting information by state and local self-government bodies, state organizations and offices, as well as the procedure for registering, classifying and preserving information.
Considering the RA Law “On Television and Radio”, the report stresses that the main issue of the broadcast legislation are the blurred and ambiguous provisions on the procedure, conditions and requirements for licensing the TV and radio companies. This mainly concerns: the issues of implementing the business programs, presented in the licensing applications, the mechanisms of assessing the applicants’ financial capacities, the verification of facts, brought in the applications, the ability of applicants to ensure pluralism on air, etc. The report highlights the necessity of legislative initiatives, aiming to guarantee the social-political diversity of the National Commission on Television and Radio, the inclusiveness of NGOs and professional organizations in NCTR, as well as the enhancement of the independence of the Council of Public Television and Radio Company.
The Human Rights Defender’s annual report also tells about the establishment of a working group in 2010 on reforming the broadcast legislation that regulates the process of switching from analogue to digital broadcasting in Armenia (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 8-14, 2010). The main task of the group is the elaboration of amendments to the Law “On Television and Radio”, particularly dealing with the introduction of a legal basis for private multiplex operators, clarification of licensing procedures, enhancement of NCTR and CPTR independence, etc.