On May 24 the US Department of State released the report on human rights practices in different countries of the world in 2011, prepared by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
One of the sections of the country report on Armenia describes the situation with freedom of speech and press. Highlighting the decrease in instances of violence against journalists in 2011, US State Department however noted that “free speech was limited by a surge of libel and defamation lawsuits in which members of the politically connected business elite were awarded large monetary damages against opposition newspapers and journalists”.
The media, especially TV companies, continued to lack diversity of political opinion and objective reporting, stressed the report. The switchover process from analog to digital broadcasts further restricted the number of TV channels; meanwhile the government did not release the audit of the broadcasting frequencies that provided the technical basis for limiting the number of digital broadcast licenses.
The State Department’s report also mentioned some court litigations dealing with media: particularly, the legal disputes between Gyumri Municipality and founder of the local “GALA” TV company regarding the right to use the city TV tower; the suit of “A1+” TV company founder versus National Commission on Television and Radio, which had contested the results of the digital broadcast licensing competitions.
The full report of US Department of State on human rights practices in Armenia in 2011 is available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=186326.