On May 3, at the Journalists Union of Armenia the award ceremony of “The Time for Freedom of Press” was held on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day. In 2014 the international journalists day, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly 21 years ago, is focused on “Media Freedom For a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.
“The Time for Freedom of Press” Award was started in 2006 by Yerevan Press Club, Media Initiatives Center (former Internews Armenia) and Journalists Union of Armenia.
In 2014 the winner of “The Time for Freedom of Press” became media expert Mesrop Harutyunian – for mentorship and journalistic activities on traditional and new platforms, promoting the strengthening of professional, independent media and freedom of expression. Mesrop Harutyunian received an honorary certificate and the traditional gift – a watch.
Yerevan Press Club congratulates colleagues on World Press Freedom Day and wishes the Armenian media to be free, independent and unbiased!
Ukrainian Commission on Journalistic Ethics ruled on the complaint filed by Boris Navasardian, President of Yerevan Press Club (YPC), against the talk show “Govoryt Ukraina” on the topic “The Fate of Unrecognized States”, aired on “TRK Ukraina” TV channel on March 18, 2014.
In his appeal to Commission on Journalistic Ethics on March 20, YPC President Boris Navasardian accused producers of “Govoryt Ukraina” for being biased and manipulating public opinion in the part of the talk show dealing with Mountainous Karabagh.
Boris Navasardian drew the Commission’s attention to the fact that the talk show was attended by representatives of the Azerbaijani side only. Additionally, facts were distorted in the program: in particular, in the piece about the size of pensions and in the video story on the Karabagh conflict which YPC President believes to be “free interpretation of events”. Thus, the author of the video story stated that only Armenia recognized Mountainous Karabagh, while Armenia did not. Finally, the appeal noted that the insults were voiced against the Armenian people in the program, and no one, including the talk show host, could confront them, since no Armenian representatives were present.
Having studied the subject of the complaint and having watched the video of March 18 talk show, which drew parallels between the events in Crimea and Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Mountainous Karabagh, the Commission on Journalistic Ethics confirmed that only three Azerbaijani representatives participated in the program, as well as a representative of Transnistria and others. At the same time, the talk show host never stated during the program that the producers invited Armenian representatives but they did not attend.
The Commission filed a request to “TRK Ukraina” management to which the press service of TV channel responded: “It was important for us to inform the audience about the position of ethnic Azerbaijanis who had to leave Mountainous Karabagh. Of course, we would like to hear the position of the Armenians living in this area but unfortunately, none of the invited representatives of the Diaspora could attend the talk show.”
At the same time, the press service of the TV channel did not comment on the accusations on the fact that insulting remarks against the Armenian people were voiced during the talk show to which the Armenian party could not respond. The TV channel also did not explain why it was not done by the show host.
On April 24, the Commission on Journalistic Ethics considered the complaint filed by Boris Navasardian, and concluded that the editorial office of the talk show “Govoryt Ukraina” partially or completely violated several articles of the Code of Ethics of Ukrainian Journalist, in the making of the TV show on March 18.
According to the Commission, the main task of the talk show “Govoryt Ukraina” is creation of a real, rather than formal balance of opinions, as well as presentation of verified facts, especially on such sensitive issues.
The talk show producers should not have broadcasted the program in the absence of the other party or should have taken measures to comply with the rules of journalistic ethics, including adjustment to the issues discussed, given the fact that one of the conflicting parties was not present to provide alternative position.
And since it was the producers of the talk show who made a decision to broadcast the program in the absence of one of the parties, Commission on Journalistic Ethics issued a warning to the editorial office of the talk show “Govoryt Ukraina”.
Armenian-Russian company, whose shareholder is Arthur Baghdasarian, the Chairman of “Orinats Yerkir” party, bought a local TV company “Yerevan”. Tert.am reported about this on April 28, referring to the Press Secretary of the party Arthur Misakian.
We tried to get detailed information about the Armenian-Russian company, about the share of Arthur Baghdasarian in this company and about its other shareholders. However, Arthur Misakian refused to comment on the details.
“So far I know only what you already know”, he said, promising to reveal more information in the coming days.
Arthur Misakian noted that the TV company would be equipped with brand new equipment but the current professional staff would continue to work.
“Orinats Yerkir” party used to be in the ruling coalition with the Republican Party of Armenia. “Orinats Yerkir” leader Arthur Baghdasarian served as the Secretary of the National Security Council (NSC) of the country. After the resignation of the Government on April 3 and the appointment of a new prime minister, “Orinats Yerkir” left the coalition, and Arthur Baghdasarian recently resigned from the post of the NSC Secretary.
On April 29, Hraparak.am published a piece stating that acquisition of “Yerevan” TV company took place three months ago with the participation of a representative from a highly influential Russian political group. The owner of “Yerevan” TV Varsham Gharibian told Hraparak.am that information on the deal was not publicized for commercial considerations. “In fact, the deal was kept secret until the normalization of the political field and the withdrawal of “Orinats Yerkir” from the ruling coalition”, Hraparak. am comments. Referring to sources close to “Orinats Yerkir”, Hraparak.am informs that Arthur Baghdasarian allocated a space for the TV company in the office of his party.
On May 1, the international human rights organization Freedom House released its annual report on freedom of the press in 2013.
Freedom House assessed the media situation by assigning a numerical score from 1 to 100 on the following categories: free (1-30 points), partly free (31-60 points), not free (61-100 points) – the lower the score, the higher the freedom. The latter was defined by three dimensions: legal, political and economic environments in which broadcast, print and online media operate. The sum of all three dimensions yielded the cumulative rating of the media situation in each country.
According to Freedom House data, of the 197 countries and territories assessed during 2013, a total of 63 (32%) were rated free, 68 (35%) were rated partly free, and 66 (33%) were rated not free. Only 14% of the world’s inhabitants lived in countries with a free press, while 42% had a partly free press and 44% lived in not free environments. Freedom House believes that this balance marks a shift toward the not free category compared with the rating in 2012.
The study also noted that global press freedom fell to its lowest level in over a decade in 2013. The year’s declines, stressed Freedom House, were driven by the desire of governments – particularly in authoritarian states or polarized political environments – to control news content, whether through the physical harassment of journalists covering protest movements or other sensitive news stories; restrictions on foreign reporters; or tightened constraints on online news outlets and social media. In addition, press freedom in a number of countries was threatened by private owners – especially those with close connections to governments or ruling parties – who altered editorial lines or dismissed key staff after acquiring previously independent outlets.
In terms of press freedom, Armenia is ranked as 134th. According to Freedom House study, the score of the Armenian media in 2013 was 62 points, i.e., one point less than in 2012 (61 points). Back then, commenting on the score of 2012, Yerevan Press Club stressed: “If the Armenian authorities express readiness to pursue a reform agenda in media field, then in 2013 our media will have all chances to be classified under the “partly free” category, from which they are only one step behind” (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, April 26 – May 2, 2013). This, however, was not the case; in the 2013 study Armenia remains among the countries with not free media, where it has been since 2002. According to Freedom House, the freedom of the press index in Armenia is on the same level today, as in Ecuador, Libya, Turkey and South Sudan, also occupying the 134th position with 62 points.
Yerevan Press Club President Boris Navasardian believes that Armenia’s retreat of one position in 2013 as compared to 2012 might be due to “2013 presidential elections wherein the monopoly of one political force was strengthened. The latter does not create favorable conditions for media freedom, along with the announced decision of the country to join the Customs Union and Eurasian Union, i.e., to integrate into a region where the principle of freedom of speech is not prioritized”.