PUBLIC INFORMATION AND DEMOCRACY
On September 9-12 9 in Tsaghkadzor a training seminar “Public Information in a Democratic Society” was held by Yerevan Press Club and the European Journalism Centre (Maastricht) with the support of the Council of Europe. The seminar was led by public information, journalism and media consultant David van der Houwen. This is already the second training (the first was conducted in September last year) for the public information staff of state structures and private enterprises of Armenia. This time the theoretical presentations and practical exercises were focused on the main components of public relations, in particular, the work of press services with representatives of the “fourth estate” and the effective conductance of PR campaigns. The seminar participants also discussed the status and role of media in Armenia, the Western and local experience in the sphere of public information.
COMPETITIONS FOR FIVE FREQUENCIES ANNOUNCED
On September 16 the National Commission on Television and Radio announced broadcast licensing competitions for five UHFs: 22nd in Yeghegnadzor (Vayots Dzor), 22nd in Spitak (Lori region), 26th in Dilijan (Tavush region), 33rd in Gyumri (Shirak region) and 36th in Vardenis (Gegharkunik region). The deadline for application submission is December 14, 2004. The bids will be considered by the National Commission on December 27. It should be noted that all the UHFs listed are currently vacant.
MEDIA LEGISLATION AND THE RIGHTS OF JOURNALISTS IN SOUTH CAUCASUS
On September 15 at the House of Journalist the presentation of “Harmonization of Media Legislation of South Caucasus Countries with European Standards” book was held. The book was published in the Russian and English languages under a homonymous regional project, implemented by the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression (Armenia), Baku Press Club (Azerbaijan) and the Association of Young Lawyers of Georgia with the support of South Caucasus Cooperation Program of Eurasia Foundation.
The publication presents reports on the media-related legislations of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, their comparative analysis as well as recommendations on their improvement. The recommendations on harmonizing the Armenian media legislation with European standards, in particular, note the need to decriminalize libel and insult, strengthen the protection of information sources, for changes in the procedures of forming the broadcast regulation bodies, simplification of access to information and the procedure for the accreditation of journalists with the state administration bodies.
The second part of the book is devoted to the violation of the rights of journalists and media in 2001-2003 in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and its comparative analysis. In particular, in all the three countries of South Caucasus there is a trend for deterioration of general media and journalist rights practices. The biggest number of violations in each country is dated 2003 – the year of elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan, “the rose revolution” in Georgia. And the same 2003 was the peak year in terms of violence against journalists.
Thus, the developments of this year show the intensification of a wish to settle accounts with “excessively curious journalists” by physical force.
Since September 13 “Aravot TV” company returned to its older name, “Kentron”. The logotype of “Aravot” daily remained on the air of the TV channel for a short period of four months and was replaced by that of “Kentron” two months after the Chief Editor of “Aravot” newspaper Aram Abrahamian resigned the position of the director of homonymous TV company. The reason for the resignation was the controversies with the new owners of the TV channel (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, August 26 – September 2, 2004).
NOVELTIES OF PRESS MARKET
The first issue of weekly newspaper “168 Zham” (“168 hours”). The weekly is published on 16/A3 pp., with a print run of 5,000 copies. The founders of the publication are “Foundation for Assistance to Independent Media” NGO and “168 Zham” LLC, the Chief Editor is Satik Seiranian.
On September 16 the Armenian press-market got another newcomer – “TV-mol” (“TV-maniac”) weekly. The founder of the newspaper is the recently established CS Publishing House (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 3-9, 2004). The weekly has 32/A3 pp. (of which 16 are full-color) and is published with a print run of 20,000 copies. The Chief Editor is Artashes Khachatrian.