EU-ARMENIA: COOPERATION AND PERSPECTIVES
On May 28-30 a seminar “EU-Armenia: Cooperation and Perspectives” was held in Gyumri. The seminar was organized by Yerevan Press Club with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The event was attended by media and NGO representatives, including journalistic associations of Armenia.
The report of YPC President Boris Navasardian was on the process of forming the National Platform of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in Armenia. The speech of Emil Danielian, observer of Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, dealt with the implementation of EaP initiative in Armenia. Gevorg Ter-Gabrielian, Country Director of Eurasia Partnership Foundation, examined the importance of EaP in geopolitical context. YPC Expert Armen Nikoghosian told about the coverage of European Neighborhood Policy and Eastern Partnership by Armenian media. The research was administered by YPC in March-April 2010 and involved 15 print media. YPC Expert Haykak Arshamian presented the main issues of democratic reforms in Armenia, foreseen by EaP. Koryun Nahapetian, deputy of RA National Assembly from Republican Party of Armenia faction, considered the process of forming Euronest – the parliamentary component of EaP.
DISCUSSIONS ON DRAFT LAW “ON TELEVISION AND RADIO” CONTINUE
On June 1 Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, called upon the Armenian authorities to bring the amendments to the RA Law “On Television and Radio” in line with international standards. As it has been reported, the draft law “On Introducing Amendments and Supplements to RA Law ‘On Television and Radio’” was adopted on May 20 in first hearing. The document was elaborated by the RA Ministry of Economy and was justified by the need of switching from analog to digital broadcasting. The statement of Yerevan Press Club, Internews Media Support NGO and Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, released on May 17, particularly, expressed a concern as to the haste with which the draft was developed, and noted that it does not solve the key issues of broadcast sphere regulation. The draft was also criticized during the discussions at RA Human Rights Defender’s Office on May 24 and at parliamentary hearings of May 26 (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, May 21-27, 2010, and May 14-20, 2010).
“If adopted in its present form, the law would not guarantee pluralism in the broadcasting sector. The draft also fails to offer a solid basis for the upcoming process of digitalization. A good draft can safeguard independence of the broadcasters, thus promoting media freedom and at the same time stimulate a competitive and economically vibrant broadcasting sector in Armenia,” Dunja Mijatovic emphasized.
An analysis of the draft “On Introducing Amendments and Supplements to RA Law ‘On Television and Radio’” was made by Andrei Richter, Professor at Moscow State University, on behalf of Office of OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media.
According to the review, shortcomings in the draft include:
“- a failure to oblige the National Commission for TV and Radio (NCTR) to explain any rejections of applications for broadcasting licenses;
– an indefinite delay to set up private digital channels while terminating analogue broadcasting by 20 July 2013. This can violate competition rules;
– it does not oblige the NCTR to make its frequency plans public at least once a year. This can make the procedure of licensing and tenders, the exact capacity and number of frequencies subject to different interpretations;
– a lack of clear rules for satellite, mobile telephone and online broadcasting, and an attempt to place all forms of broadcasting under a strict regime of licensing or permission by the NCTR;
– it does not follow international standards in the selection and appointment of members of the Council for Public Television and Radio;
– a limit to the number of broadcast channels without any explanation.” (Find the full version of the expert analysis of the draft on www.osce.org/fom).
On June 2 the amendments to the Broadcast Law were considered at the Public Council at the RA President. At the discussion the statement of Yerevan Press Club, Internews, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, “Asparez” Journalists’ Club of Gyumri and Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation-Armenia was distributed. The statement summarizes the recommendations and comments of NGOs, voiced during parliamentary hearings on the draft.
On June 3 the draft was considered at RA Ministry of Economy. As the Minister of Economy Nerses Yeritsian noted, some of the recommendations have been accepted. However, the final conclusion will be made after a study of the version of the draft, which will be submitted to RA National Assembly for second hearing.
CORRESPONDENT OF “HAYKAKAN ZHAMANAK” DETAINED
According to the press release of RA Police of June 1, on May 30 during the opposition action a group of people called to hold a spontaneous public event at the Freedom Square of Yerevan, as well as put up resistance to policemen. The press release said that the investigative measures revealed that Ani Gevorgian, correspondent of “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily, had used violence against policemen A.B.: “Ani Gevorgian is detained.” Criminal proceedings are instituted on the incident against the journalist by Part 1 of Article 316 (“Violence against a Representative of Power”) of RA Criminal Code.
According to the information, published on June 1 in “Haykakan Zhamanak”, Ani Gevorgian was detained on May 31, at about 18.30, during another protest action in the centre of Yerevan, and was convened to Kentron Police Department. At the moment of her detention Ani Gevorgian was accomplishing her professional duties – taking pictures of what was going on. According to the daily, the reason of detention could be the piece of Ani Gevorgian which criticized the clip praising RA Police and its head Alik Sargsian.
On June 1 Yerevan Press Club, Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, Internews Media Support NGO, Media Diversity Institute-Armenia, “Asparez” Journalists’ Club of Gyumri, Goris Press Club, Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center, Helsinki Committee of Armenia released a statement, expressing a bewilderment that Ani Gevorgian, 23, could use violence against a policeman. The statement of 8 organizations stresses that on May 31 representatives of law enforcement bodies also impeded the work of Syuzanna Poghosian, correspondent of “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily, and Lilit Tadevosian, correspondent of “Hayk” daily. The journalists were detained and released afterwards. The signatories assessed these incidents as unacceptable for a democratic society, called to release Ani Gevorgian and stop the criminal prosecution instituted against her.
On June 2 US-based Committee to Protect Journalists expressed its concern with regard to the incident.
SUIT OF FOI CENTER VERSUS PARAKAR RURAL COMMUNITY SECURED
On May 31 RA Administrative Court of Etchmiadzin, reconsidered the suit of Freedom of Information Center versus Parakar rural community (Armavir region) and secured the demands of the plaintiff. As it has been reported, in July 2009 FOI Center addressed the court versus Parakar rural community, demanding to hold the inaction of the village Elder Samvel Vardanian, who did not answer fully to the request on land allotment in January 2009. On August 13, 2009 the suit was declined by RA Administrative Court, and FOI Center appealed the decision at the upper court jurisdiction. On March 19, 2010 RA Court of Cassation secured the claim of the plaintiff partially. The Court stated that the Elder of Parakar village could not answer the request fully, as it did not dispose of the required information for some objective reasons. The Court of Cassation called off the decision of the Administrative Court and sent the case for reconsideration by the same jurisdiction (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 19-25, 2010).
At the session of May 31 the Administrative Court secured the demand of FOI Center, by holding the inaction of the village Elder and obliging him to provide fully the requested information.
“YERKIR MEDIA” STARTS SATELLITE BROADCASTING
Since May 28 “Yerkir Media” TV company started satellite broadcasting. The settings and other detailed information are stored on the TV company’s website: www.yerkirmedia.am
HONORED TITLES TO MARK THE REPUBLIC DAY
Honored titles to scientists, culture and art figures of Armenia were awarded by the decree of RA President Serge Sargsian – to mark the Republic Day of May 28. The title of “Journalist Emeritus” was given to Ruben Satian, Chief Editor of “Novoye Vremya” newspaper.