YPC Weekly Newsletter

2007


“Political Developments in the South Caucasus and Armenian-Georgian Relations: Reflection in Media”

PROGRAMS OF RADIO LIBERTY ARMENIAN SERVICE NOW AIRED ON “ARRADIOINTERCONTINENTAL”

Since September 1 the broadcasts of the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on the Public Radio of Armenia were stopped. Currently the broadcasts of the Radio Liberty Armenian Service will be made only on the frequencies of “ArRadioIntercontinental”, in accordance with an agreement signed with this private radio company and in force till September 16, 2008. The daily two-hour programs of Radio Liberty started to go on air of “ArRadioIntercontinental” since August 15 with a simultaneous transmission on Public Radio – till August 31. The change of the broadcasting company, in opinion of the Director of the Armenian Service of RFE/RL Atom Margarian, will result in a significant reduction of the audience: “ArRadioIntercontinental” holds 23 transmitters, while PRA has 80 of them. Besides, Atom Margarian noted, the listeners complain of clutter on the air.

As it has been reported, the issue of broadcasting the programs of the RFE/RL Armenian Service on the Public Radio came into limelight in June 2007 – in the context of broadcasting amendments, submitted to the consideration of the RA National Assembly. The drafts, developed by the Armenian Government, proposed to prohibit the activities of other broadcasters on the frequencies of the Public TV and Radio company, and a state duty was stipulated, equal to 70,000 AMD (over $ 200) for “each issuance of a program cycle of the national editorial office or a service of a foreign media by the TV and Radio companies of the Republic of Armenia”. These amendments caused an outcry from a number of public, also journalistic, organizations and political parties, who qualified them as an attempt to stop the broadcasts of the Radio Liberty and restrict the freedom of expression. The drafts failed at the parliament through only one vote unscored (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 30 – July 5, 2007 and June 22-29, 2007).

Meanwhile, as it became known in the course of discussion of the drafts above, the term of agreement between PRA and RFE/RL had expired in February 2007, and the negotiations about its prolongation yielded no result.

On July 6 the Council of Public TV and Radio Company resolved to stop airing the programs of local and foreign broadcasters on the Public TV and Radio from August 9. As noted in the explanation of the PTRC Council, the decision was made “considering international experience of the activities of public TV and radio companies” (quoted by “Hayastani Hanrapetutiun” daily, July 26, 2007). This decision affected not only Radio Liberty: in August the broadcasts of “Tsayg” TV company of Gyumri on the 6th VHF that the TV company had been using jointly with “Shirak” public television was stopped. The same is true for the program of “Mir” Interstate TV and Radio Company on the Public Radio of Armenia.

ARMAN BABAJANIAN REFUSED AN EARLY RELEASE

On July 19 the commission on early release and release on parole refused the petition about the early release of the Chief Editor of “Zhamanak-Yerevan” newspaper Arman Babajanian. As it has been reported, on September 8, 2006 the court of primary jurisdiction of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan sentenced Arman Babajanian to 4 years’ imprisonment for document fraud to evade military service. On January 12, 2007 the RA Court of Appeals reduced the punishment to 3.5 years’ imprisonment, and the cassation challenge of the journalist’s attorneys was later refused (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 9-15, 2007).

ARMENIAN-GEORGIAN RELATIONS DISCUSSED IN GUDAURI

On July 20-23 in Gudauri (Georgia) a seminar “Political Developments in the South Caucasus and Armenian-Georgian Relations: Reflection in Media” was held. The event was organized by Yerevan Press Club and Friedrich Ebert Foundation. It brought together representatives of media, public, also journalistic, organizations of Armenia and Georgia.

The presentations and speeches of the seminar participants reflected “the views from Yerevan and Tbilisi” on the main problems of the region, relations between Armenia and Georgia and the possibilities for regional cooperation. In particular, such issues were discussed as the role of media in the European integration context for South Caucasus, the GUAM summit in Baku and its coverage in the media of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, new schemes for cooperation in the region, their impact on the relations between the countries of South Caucasus and their reflection in media and public opinion, the cooperation of journalists in South Caucasus, Armenian-Georgian relations in pre-election platforms and public activities of political parties, coverage of problems of national minorities in the regions of interethnic tension by media of Armenia and Georgia.

PRESS-SECRETARY OF THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE CHANGED

Since July 23 the press-secretary of the new RA Minister of Justice Gevorg Danielian is Lana Mshetsian, previously the correspondent of “Golos Armenii” newspaper. The former press-secretary of the former Minister of Justice David Harutiunian Anahit Voskanian had quit the position.