On October 5 at the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe in Strasbourg the Resolution 1837(2011) “The Functioning of Democratic Institutions in Armenia” was adopted. As it has been reported, the Provisional Version of the Resolution was approved by the PACE Monitoring Committee (co-rapporteurs John Prescott and Axel Fischer) on September 8 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 8-15, 2011).
In Point 10 of the Resolution, dealing with the broadcast domain, PACE emphasizes that a genuinely pluralist media environment is an essential condition for the democratic development of Armenia. Noting that the amended RA Law “On Television and Radio” is an improvement over previous legislation, PACE reiterates its call to the Armenian authorities to ensure a pluralist media environment also in practice.
The Resolution mentions the holding of the broadcasting licensing competitions, held in Armenia in 2010, and the subsequent decision of CoE Committee of Ministers Resolution on closing the examination of the case of “A1+” founder, “Meltex” LLC, versus Republic of Armenia on the ground that a transparent tender had taken place (Sub-point 10.1). According to PACE, the outcome of the licensing tender has not resulted in a more pluralist media environment and therefore it is not in line with the requests of the Assembly in this regard (Sub-point 10.2).
PACE reiterates its call on the Armenian authorities that amendments should be made to the Broadcast Law in order to ensure that the composition of the National Commission on Television and Radio (NCTR), as well as the Public Television and Radio Council, truly reflect and are representative of Armenian society (Sub-point 10.3). The Law should contain a legal obligation that licensing decisions of the NCTR should be guided by and reflect the need to increase the pluralism and diversity of the media environment in Armenia, the Resolution notes (Sub-point 10.4). A substantially lower barrier for interested groups to enter the media market is an important mechanism to increase the plurality of the media environment. Given the potential of digital broadcasting to increase the number of broadcasting licenses available, the Assembly considers that the authorities should hold, when feasible, a new broadcasting licence tender with the explicit aim of increasing the pluralism and diversity of the media environment in Armenia (Sub-point 10.5).