ELECTRONIC MEDIA VOICE THEIR PROTEST
On January 12, 2001, the TV and radio companies of Armenia made a decision to stop their broadcasts from 20:00 till 20:45 protesting the recently adopted RA Law “On Television and Radio”.
This action is directed not only against the provisions that were recognized by RA Constitutional Court to contradict the Constitution, but also against the Law on the whole, which, in the opinion of the leaders of electronic media, is not adequate to modern requirements and international standards.
The Declaration of Armenian broadcasters says:
“TV and radio companies of Armenia express their serious concern about the RA Law “On Television and Radio”, adopted by RA National Assembly on October 9, 2000, and maintain it does not assist the establishment of “the fourth estate”.
As all preliminary measures taken by the media against the adoption of the Law appeared futile, the TV companies decided to resort to extreme steps and hold a joint protest action.
Today from 20.00 till 20.45 TV and radio broadcasts will be stopped.
The protest action includes the following TV companies: “A1+”, NTA, “Noyan Tapan”, “Avetis”, “Tsayg”, “Tashirk”, “Yerevan”, “Abovian”, “AS”, “Lusalik”, “Armine”, “Gavar”, “Armenia”, “Hachin”, “ALT”, “Fortune 6+6”, “Prometheus”, “Cinemax”, “Lori”, NTV, RTR, ORT.”
LEGISLATION AND MEDIA
On January 11-12 a Seminar titled “European Standards on Media Regulation” was held at Ani Plaza Hotel in Yerevan. The Seminar was organized by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and the Council of Europe at the assistance of Yerevan Press Club and Internews Armenia. The event accommodated about 70 participants, representing Armenian media and journalistic associations, state bodies, diplomatic missions accredited in Armenia, international organizations.
The following subjects were raised during the first working day of the Seminar: “Review of the Armenian media legislation”, “Free access to information: current state in Armenia and legislative initiatives”, “International standards and requirements of the Council of Europe on media legislation”, “Problems in the field of legal regulation of broadcast media in Armenia”.
The second day of the Seminar was spent at the analysis of the RA Law “On TV and Radio” recently adopted by the National Assembly of the country. The role of this Law in developing free media in Armenia, its compliance with requirements of the Council of Europe and prospects of its practical implementation in broadcasting regulation were considered.
In the opinion of most local and foreign experts, participating in the Seminar, the existing media legislation in Armenia, including the recently adopted RA Law “On Television and Radio”, does not correspond to modern requirements and international standards. Moreover, many stipulations of the recently adopted Law contradict the Constitution and a number of other Armenian laws. This was also confirmed by the resolution given by RA Constitutional Court on January 11, 2001. According to this resolution, the RA Law ”On Television and Radio” is recognized to contradict the RA Constitution in 6 points.
1083 MEDIA ENTERPRISES REGISTERED IN ARMENIA
The commotion about the re-registration of media, in order to bring their legal status in compliance with the requirements of the new RA Civil Code and the Governmental Decree #169 dated March 16, 1999, seems to be ceasing. As the Chief Counselor of RA Ministry of Justice Sergey Karapetian told the Yerevan Press Club, as of early January 2001, 1083 media enterprises are registered in Armenia. Of these, 193 are TV companies, 55 are radio companies, 27 – news agencies, 166 – magazines and 642 – newspapers.
On the other hand, these data are apt to change before long. According to Mr. Karapetian, the legal requirements are such that if the founder of a media enterprise has registered as an economic subject (e.g., as a limited liability or a joint-stock company) in its territorial division of State Register before January 1, 2001, the Ministry of Justice cannot but accept documents for registering this enterprise.
By preliminary data, 40% of the mentioned 1083 media were to re-register in accordance with new requirements but failed to do so for different reasons, and legally are subject for liquidation. Moreover, in 1991-2000 – also through various reasons – the registration certificates of 46 media enterprises became invalid, yet these enterprises are still formally among the registered 1083.
Thus, a simple arithmetic calculation shows that having subtracted these media enterprises as well as those subject to liquidation, and taking into consideration the possible submission of documents, about 650-700 media enterprises will remain officially registered in Armenia. Sergey Karapetian says the work at the documents is still in progress, and the exact data will appear by mid-February.
Meanwhile, “Hayastani Hanrapetutiun” daily, founded in 1990 by RA National Assembly, announced on January 11 its intention to stop the publication starting the following day, as the edition had failed to perform the legally stipulated procedures for re-registration. “HH” assures the readers of its readiness to try and overcome the existing problems in the shortest time possible.
WILL “MIR” BE ON AIR?
Along with the reported difficulties that cast doubt on further broadcast of Russian ORT and RTR TV companies in Armenia, “Mir” Interstate TV and Radio Company broadcasting on the territory of CIS countries is likely to halt its activities. On January 9, the Company received a letter signed by ORT General Director Konstantin Ernst saying that, according to the contract signed in 1997, ORT temporarily allocated airtime to “Mir”, until the acquisition of a channel by the latter. However, starting in 2001 ORT finds the continuation of this co-operation inexpedient, Carl Yalanuzian, Director of Armenian Branch of “Mir” Interstate TV and Radio Company told Yerevan Press Club.
“If ORT stopped broadcasting in Armenia, we planned to issue our programs on the air of local “Prometheus” TV Company. However, the last decision of ORT leadership has created a deadlock, the ways out of which are rather obscure”, concluded Carl Yalanuzian. As some of the observers predict, the sale of ORT stock by tycoon Boris Berezovsky to Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich may seriously alter the attitude of this TV Company to broadcasting in CIS countries in general.