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TV Tower of Yerevan

Media Watchdogs Raise Concerns Regarding The Draft Law “On Audiovisual Media”

The draft law “On Audiovisual Media” adopted by the National Assembly in the first reading gives cause for deep concern. Not only is it not aimed at implementing reforms in the broadcasting sector, but it is also seriously flawed in terms of the presented principles and approaches, as well as the formulations thereof. The bill envisages an inefficiently competitive licensing procedure for terrestrial broadcasting via public multiplex. It fails to either provide any realistic mechanisms for forming private multiplexes, or solve the problems of about 10 local TV stations operating in the regions that were left out of the digitalization process. No opportunity for reforms over the public broadcaster is created and so on.

Although some of the journalistic organizations who signed this statement had submitted a few dozen proposals to the authors of the document, with most of them accepted, it is obvious that the draft does not meet any modern requirements, does not solve the key issues in the field. The main reason is that the bill is built on problematic conceptual bases, hence, it needs to be revised.

The reason for concern is that the authors of the document did not want to follow our urges to send the draft to the Council of Europe and/or the OSCE for international expert evaluation,  a process which we have expressed our readiness to support. We understand that the urgency in relation to the adoption of the bill is conditioned by the fact that according to the current law “On Television and Radio”, the terms of TV licenses shall expire this year, and regular competitions must be organized. However, due to the need to adopt a quality new law, they may be delayed as well.

In view of the above stated, we call to:

– take the bill on audiovisual media out of circulation and send it for international expert examination,

– make appropriate amendments to the present Law on Television and Radio in order to postpone the regular licensing tenders,

–  initiate discussions in order to draft a concept paper for the development of the field and a new law for the regulation of the sector and create a working group with the participation of NA deputies, journalists’ organizations, representatives of TV and radio companies, and independent experts.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO

“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO

GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Armenia -- Police fine Armnews TV, because the TV anchor wasn't wearing a mask, Yerevan, 03Jul2020

Statement on Police Actions at The Newsrooms of ArmNews and Channel 5 TV

Yesterday, on July 3, policemen visited ArmNews and Channel 5 TV stations, with the aim of initiating administrative proceedings for not wearing a mask on TV.

Even taking into account the requirements under the state of emergency related to the coronavirus epidemic, we consider the action applied by the law enforcement to be an abuse of power. In the conditions of political and psychological tension in the society, the authorities should be more careful and avoid taking unnecessarily strict steps. We are convinced that the issue of wearing a mask or not wearing it on air could be solved differently, through discussions, clarifications, and mutual agreements.

We, the undersigned organizations, demand from the Government and the Commandant’s Office as follows:

  • not to use law enforcement agencies in actions beyond their typical scope of functions and exclude their interference in the activities of the media;
  • to revise and clarify the limitations on working conditions related to the media because of the epidemic, taking into account the peculiarities of the media, especially TV․

We urge the media to refrain from any possible violations of the decisions passed by the Commandant’s Office, realizing their own share of responsibility for the health of both fellow citizens and their employees.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE” NGO

“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO

GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Armenia -- Journalists pushed around while covering tycoon Gagik Tsarukian's departure from NSS, Yerevan, 16Jun2020

“The Security Forces Not Only Failed To Protect The Journalists, But Also Hindered Their Work”

Yesterday, on June 16, 2020 when “Prosperous Armenia” party leader Gagik Tsarukyan following his interrogation at the RA National Security Service went out to his supporters gathered in the area, as a result of scuffle as well as police actions, at least 5 journalists covering the process suffered. In particular, “News.am” correspondent Liana Sargsyan, “Tert.am” reporter Ani Gevorgyan, “Yerkir.am” correspondent Tatevik Kostandyan, “Kentron” TV journalist Artur Hakobyan and “MegaNews.am” editor Margarita Davtyan were injured.

According to the injured journalists, the media representatives found themselves surrounded by the police in the confusion, after which they were hit. Regardless of whether these actions were targeted or were conditioned by negligence or insufficient professional training, we note that the security forces not only failed to protect the journalists, but also hindered their work.

We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, condemn any violence against media representatives who perform their professional duties, and demand from the RA Police to carry out an objective internal investigation to study the incident and bring those responsible to justice.

At the same time, given that these events take place in the state of emergency conditioned by coronavirus, we urge media executives to keep away their employees from appearing in the center of gatherings of people while covering rallies, and in case it is impossible, to give clear instructions on complying with security measures.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

“ASPAREZ” JOURNALISTS’ CLUB

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE”

“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS”

GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Statement on Ensuring Media Coverage under The State of Emergency

We, the undersigned organizations, have noted with satisfaction that on March 25 the RA Government reviewed its March 16 decision and ended the disproportionate limitations of covering issues related to the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, we note that the revised provisions do not clearly define the body, which is authorized to provide official information and comment on behalf of the State of Emergency Coordinating Body. This raises problems when trying to effectively utilize relevant arrangements for the state of emergency.

Given the need under the current situation for the public to be informed and receive accurate, reliable, and comprehensive information, we call on the RA government to immediately define a clear procedure for providing the requested information and appoint a responsible authority.

As in our previous statement, we reconfirm our readiness to support any undertaking aimed at ensuring that the public is properly informed.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE
JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Armenian Media Microphones

Statement on Provisions Limiting Freedom of Speech in Government’s Decision to Institute a State of Emergency

March 20, 2020, Yerevan

We, the undersigned, have in various formats expressed our negative opinion about the provisions of the Government’s decision to institute a State of Emergency in the Republic of Armenia, which regulate the dissemination of information.

After those provisions went into force, we have registered that their implementation is ineffective, non-proportional, unreasonable and contradicts public interest under the conditions of the pandemic.

We are calling on the RA Government and State of Emergency Coordinating Body:

  • To immediately call back provisions 23, 24, 25 and 26 of the Government decision # 298-N, about instituting a state of emergency in the Republic of Armenia as of March 16;
  • Develop a new provision regulating the dissemination of information, which will clarify possible limitations for this complicated situation, will aid in the adherence to norms of professionalism and effective interactions between the government bodies and media for the public good.

We express readiness to help in developing such a document.

Yerevan Press Club

Media Initiatives Center

Freedom of Information Center

Public Journalism Club

Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression

Journalists’ Club “Asparez”

Media Diversity Institute – Armenia

Journalists for the Future

Journalists for Human Rights

Goris Press Club

Supremacy of Law

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Statement on the Draft Amendments to the Criminal Code

The new draft of the amendments to the Criminal Code posted on the official website e-draft.am by the Ministry of Justice raised serious concerns among the journalistic circles. In particular, Article 443 relating to filing a false police report prescribes liability, including imprisonment for publishing false information on a criminal case or commission of a crime by someone in the media.

We, the undersigned organisations, note the clarifications provided by the Ministry to the effect that the purpose of the said amendments was not targeting the media or journalists. Nevertheless, we state that transposing the crime of filing a false police report to the field of the media is an innovation unused in the past (it does not exist in the current Criminal Code) and not necessary at present, which can threaten seriously freedom of expression and impede media activity. Moreover, this will have a “chilling effect” on the media sources to impart confidential information on cases of public importance. Finally, even if a media outlet publishes false information on a criminal case or the commission of a crime by someone, this issue can be resolved by means of civil law regulations through liability for defamation rather than criminal prosecution.

Considering the aforesaid, we demand that the authors of the draft refrain from transposing the problem of filing a false police report to the field of the media and remove from Article 443 the wording “… or publication of similar information in the mass media.”

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE

JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

GORIS PRESS CLUB

SUPREMACY OF LAW

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Attack on Kentron TV

Statement on the attack against “Epikentron” filming-crew

On December 24, 2019, in Hovtashen community of Ararat province, several dozens of residents attacked “Kentron” TV journalist Artur Hakobyan and cameraman Simik Mayilyan, hitting them and damaging the camera. The camera crew managed to save a part of the footage of the incident, which clearly shows the fact of violence.

According to “Epikentron” news agency director Varduhi Meltonyan, “Kentron” TV reporters, along with other media representatives, had arrived in Hovtashen to cover the issues related to the fish farm owned by Sedrak Arustamyan, Director of Multi Group Concern. The saved footage shows that the attack by the residents was targeted and aimed at hindering the work of the very TV company crew.

We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, express our resentment with regard to the obstruction of professional journalistic activities and the violence unleashed. We urge the law enforcement agencies to take measures to identify and bring all those responsible to justice.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

“ASPAREZ” JOURNALISTS’ CLUB

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE”

“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS”

GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Zhoghovurd Newspaper

Statement on breaking into “Zhoghovurd” daily’s newsroom

On the night of December 19, 2019 unknown persons broke into the editorial office of “Zhoghovurd” daily and, according to the reporters of the newspaper, ransacked the property, opened the drawers, entered the editor’s office, scattered newspapers and papers, most likely trying to find something. According to preliminary information, no computer equipment or other things have been stolen, but the intrusion itself is evidence of an attempt to exert brutal pressure on the media.

We, the undersigned journalistic organizations, strongly condemn the attack against the editorial office, express our support to our colleagues, and demand that law enforcement agencies take all necessary measures to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

YEREVAN PRESS CLUB

MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

“ASPAREZ” JOURNALISTS’ CLUB

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE-ARMENIA

PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB

“JOURNALISTS FOR THE FUTURE”

“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS”

GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Digital Broadcasting TV

Statement on granting the Public Television a right to broadcast advertisements

On 11 December the RA Ministry of Justice officially posted on the website www.e-draft.am the draft Law on the Amendments to the RA Law on Television and Radio, which envisages inter alia a right for the Public Television to broadcast advertisements for up to 5 minutes within one broadcast hour.

We, the undersigned organisations, hereby state that this is an entirely unjustified step. The issue of whether the Public Television and Radio Company sponsored from the state budget must have access to the adviertising market had always been resolved by the former authorities arbitrarily depending on the political expediency and very concrete business group interests rather than credible calculations and serious arguments. There is no ground to assume that the current initiative is driven by the public demand while the draft itself raises a number of issues with the relevant expert structures.

We note that this is not the first case that the revolutionary government neglects the need to consult the expert community before adopting important decisions and developing draft legislation.

Considering the justifications attached to the draft law as unacceptable and biased, we demand that:

  • The Ministry of Justice removes the document in question from circulation and holds an open discussion on the issue of advertising by the Public Television;
  • The Television and Radio Commission expresses a public position on whether in addition to budgetary allocations the public broadcaster needs to have access to the advertising market;
  • The Board of the Public Television and Radio Company puts forward additional and more convincing explanations on insufficient budgetary allocations and urgency of broadcasting advertisements, as well as provides clarifications as to why these issues and legislative amendments are being agreed exclusively with the authorities in blatant neglect of the opinions of other stakeholders.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER
JOURNALISTS’ CLUB “ASPAREZ”
MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB

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Armenian Media Microphones

Statement on Discrimination Against Mass Media by the AIISA

Today, on 29 October, the Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs prohibited the participation of a number of media organisations to its event entitled “20 Years after the October 27th: A Glance in Retrospect, Lessons and Thoughts.” The day before Styopa Safaryan, founder and head of AIISA, made a note on a Facebook page for mass media, indicating in particular that there would be no entry for the online media outlets “News.am”, “Hayeli.am”, “168.am”, “Yerevan Today”, “7or.am”, “Livenews.am” and the television companies “5th Channel” and «Yerkir Media.”

We, the undersigned organisations, assess this approach as a discrimination in respect of the mass media, which is impermissible and dangerous for the right to freedom of speech. A non-governmental organisation has to be open and be interested in wide coverage of its activities.

Although the reality in the Armenian media landscape is that media outlets serve different political interests, nevertheless non-governmental organisations must not engage in discrimination and be guided by their likes and dislikes.

In view of the aforesaid, we call on the AIISA to review its approach with regard to the media outlets, demonstrate tolerance and exclude discrimination in respect of the media in the future.

 

COMMITTEE TO PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
YEREVAN PRESS CLUB
MEDIA INITIATIVES CENTER

MEDIA DIVERSITY INSTITUTE – ARMENIA
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER
PUBLIC JOURNALISM CLUB
“JOURNALISTS FOR FUTURE” NGO
“JOURNALISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS” NGO
GORIS PRESS CLUB

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