“PRESS CLUB +” ON THE AIR OF “SOSI” TV COMPANY OF KAPAN
In the evening of October 18 the first talk show from “Press Club +” program cycle went on the air of “Sosi” TV company of Kapan. “Press Club +” deals with the issues of fostering media and its role in the society. The cycle is produced by Yerevan Press Club in cooperation with regional TV companies under “Alternative Resources in Media” project, supported by USAID. Media heads, prominent journalists and media experts take part in the talk show. Earlier, on October 15, in Kapan the representatives of a number of national media and journalistic organizations met with the local community. Similar talk shows and meetings will be held within the year in other Armenian regions, too.
PRESENT AND PERSPECTIVES OF EU-ARMENIA COOPERATION CONSIDERED IN KAPAN
On October 13-15 the seminar “EU-Armenia: The Present and Perspectives” was held in Kapan (Syunik region). The event was organized by Yerevan Press Club with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Foundation and was the third one dealing with EU-Armenia relations. The other two seminars took place in December 2009 in Aghveran and in May 2010 in Gyumri (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, January 14-21, 2010 and May 28 – June 3, 2010). The seminar of Kapan was attended by representatives of media, NGOs and journalistic associations.
The report of Stepan Grigorian, Head of Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation, dealt with the political significance of the EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) initiative. Independent Expert Vahagn Ghazarian presented the perspectives of EU-Armenia economical cooperation in terms of EaP Free Trade Agreement. Gevorg Ter-Gabrielian, Country Director of Eurasia Partnership Foundation, told about the importance of anti-corruption programs in frames of EaP. The report of YPC President Boris Navasardian was on the role of civil society in implementing the Eastern Partnership programme. YPC Expert Heriknaz Harutiunian talked about the coverage of European Neighborhood Policy and Eastern Partnership by Armenian media. The research was administered by YPC in March-July 2010 and involved 15 print media. In his report David Tumanian, Vice-President of the Association of Community Financiers, touched upon the challenges in reforming the local self-government institutions in the light of EU-Armenia cooperation.
“PEOPLE’S TV” CREATED FOR SUPPORTING “A1+”
On October 18 the “People’s TV” Foundation was launched. The Foundation aims to promote freedom of expression and to support “A1+” TV company, which is taking part in the broadcast licensing competitions. As it has been reported, the competitions, announced by the National Commission on Television and Radio (NCTR) on July 20, 2010, are held in Armenia for the first time and are stipulated by the digital switchover from analogue broadcasting (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, July 16-22, 2010).
The “People’s TV” intends to organize a fundraising, which will help to determine the potential audience of “A1+”, and consecutively – the social demand on resuming its broadcast. The Board of Trustees of the Foundation features: President of Yerevan Press Club Boris Navasardian, Executive Director of Internews Media Support public organization Nouneh Sarkissian; writer and dramatist Karineh Khodikian (member of the NCTR in 2001-2007); Secretary of “Heritage” parliamentary faction Larisa Alaverdian; Chairwoman of the Association “For Sustainable Human Development” Karineh Danielian; Chief Editor of “Aravot” daily Aram Abrahamian; Head of “Forum” Legal Center Tigran Ter-Yesayan; Board Chairman of “Asparez” Journalists’ Club of Gyumri Levon Barseghian; Head of the Vanadzor Office of Helsinki Citizens Assembly Artur Sakunts.
“A1+” was deprived of air on April, 2002. The TV company had further taken part in all the broadcast licensing competitions, but every time its bids were scored lower by the NCTR than those of its rivals. On June 17, 2008 the European Court of Human Rights released its judgment on the case of the founder of “A1+” TV company, “Meltex” LLC, and its President Mesrop Movsesian versus Republic of Armenia. In the ECHR ruling the refusals to grant a broadcast license to “Meltex” LLC were recognized to be a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, i.e., of the right of the applicant to freely impart information and ideas (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 13-19, 2008).
RSF INDEX: EU COUNTRIES FALL FROM THEIR PEDESTAL
On October 20 “Reporters without Borders“(RSF) international organization released its ninth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. The study was conducted in 178 countries and based on events between September 1, 2009 and September 1, 2010. RSF index was compiled by surveying 15 partner organizations and 140 correspondents of RSF, as well as journalists, researchers, lawyers and human rights activists. The respondents were assessing the press freedom in each country with a questionnaire worked up by RSF and including 43 criteria: ranging from various forms of pressure on journalists and media to legislative restrictions. Attention was also given to the level of self-censorship and of impunity, enjoyed by those responsible for press freedom violations.
Economic development, institutional reform and respect for fundamental rights do not necessarily go hand in hand, and the defense of media freedom continues to be a battle in both the democracies of old Europe and in the totalitarian regimes, the study of “Reporters without Borders” emphasizes. The RSF, specifically, marks the deteriorating press freedom situation in the European Union member states. Despite that 13 of the EU’s 27 members are in the top 20 (Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland share the first place), some of the other EU members are very low in the ranking. Thus, France is the 44th, Italy – 49th, Romania – 52nd , while Greece and Bulgaria share the 70-74th places with the other countries (the worst index among all EU countries). Like in the previous years, Turkmenistan (176), North Korea (177) and Eritrea (178) are at the bottom of the rating list.
Of the former USSR countries the most benign is the situation in Estonia (9-10), Lithuania (11-13) and Latvia (30-31). Even though, comparing with 2009, the position of Latvia has deteriorated almost twice due to the odd return to violence and self-censorship in the electoral period. The presidential elections of 2010 in Ukraine (131 versus 89-90 in 2009) have influenced its rating, too. The rankings have also drastically declined in Kyrgyzstan (159 versus 125, due to the change of power and inter-ethnic conflicts in 2010) and Kazakhstan (162 versus 142, while, as RSF notes, the country has gained notoriety through repeated attacks on the rights of the media and journalists in the very year in which it presides over OSCE, when it is bound to be subjected to particularly close scrutiny). As in the previous study, the situation of press freedom is almost the same in Tajikistan (115 versus 113), Belarus (154 versus 151) and Uzbekistan (163 versus 160). The index of Moldova (75 versus 114) has improved one and a half times. The ranking of Russia (140 versus 153), who has returned to its previous position, with the exception of 2009, which was marred by the murder of several journalists and human rights activists, has ameliorated by 13 points.
As regards the countries of South Caucasus, the index of Georgia has fell from the 81st line in 2009 to the 99-100 in 2010, the one of Azerbaijan – from 146 to 152, while the rating of Armenia has improved by 10 points (111 in 2009 versus 101-102 in 2010). Nonetheless, the reasons of the changes in the South Caucasus countries are not indicated in the RSF report.
JUA ANNOUNCED THE AWARDEES OF “AZDARAR”- 2010
On October 20, at the Journalists Union of Armenia “Azdarar”-2010 award ceremony was held. Dedicated to the Day of Armenian Press (marked on October 16), the award was established in 2004 by the Journalists Union of Armenia and the members of the Club of JUA “Gold Pen” Awardees.
“Azdarar” awardees for 2010 were: youth newspaper “Kanch”; the program cycle “Ays Ore” (“This Day”) of Yerkir Media TV company; “Van” radio company; Nelly Beglarian, Chief Editor of “Ararat” regional newspaper; photo journalist Hrayr Baze Khacherian (Canada); “Nairi in Kaliningrad” Russian newspaper, published in Armenian and Russian.