The RA Law on the Mass Media, which had been adopted in 2003, has not so far obstructed the work of any media outlet. Mesrop Haroutyunyan, a media expert believes that this is an assessment indicator for any legislation. Yet, a question arises whether the consumer’s right to know what interests this or that media outlet serves is protected by law. The Law on the Mass Media has several gaps used especially by the online media. First, Article 11 of the Law foresees publishing of the baseline data (address, telephone number, name of the legal person, the person responsible for the issue, etc.), a requirement, which also applies to ‘the media outlets issued on a physical carrier’ and the broadcasters. At the beginning the phrase ‘physical carrier’ applied to the traditional media. In 2003 the online media were not as advanced as today. Even today these provisions are not applied by them. Meanwhile, according to experts, it does not matter what a physical carrier looks like.
On January 31, the Government made a decision to liquidate Gyumri “Shirak public TV-radio” closed joint-stock company. The reasoning is as follows: since October 26, 2016, Armenia passed on to digital broadcasting, and so far “Shirak public TV-radio” has been operating in analogue mode and is not able to ensure aide audience, whereas “to conduct digital broadcasting first of all respective legislative regulation is required and significant financial investment, which is unrealistic at this moment.”
The TV and Radio commission announced the failure of a private multiplexor for a 6-month licensing license to operate on the last working day of the last year. The basis for this decision was the fact that during the defined period no application was received. This is the third tender without results, which is announced failed with the same reasoning.
The Law on the Protection of Personal Data foresaw exceptions: collection and processing of personal data was not subject to restrictions if done exclusively for journalistic, literary and artistic purposes. This was prescribed by paragraph 3 of Article 1 of the Law, which, however, lost effect by the amendments enacted by the parliament on 16 December 2016. Moreover, this process was accompanied by utter secrecy.
On 19 December, the Television and Radio Commission made a statement expressing
concerns about certain phenomena in the TV programmes “Epikentron” and
“Andradarz” aired by Kentron TV. In particular, TVRC was concerned that rather than
fulfilling its obligation to ensure plurality of public interests, imparting ideas and opinions,
as well as freely circulating objective information, the mass media outlet targeted one of
the political forces, resorting to ‘the rich weaponry of propaganda and manipulation’
against it. According to the TVRC, the aforesaid practices undermine the very essence
of editorial independence revealing “the interference and direction of one political force
and the leader thereof”. Therefore, the Commission called on Kentron TV not to become
a platform for the propaganda of one political party.
We, the undersigned media organizations, state that the snap parliamentary elections held in Armenia on December 9, 2018, qualitatively differed from all the previous ones in terms of favorable conditions for journalists and the media outlets and for their operation without restraint. On the actual election day, no serious case of physical violence or impeding the professional activity of a journalist was recorded; the few slight incidents were settled immediately. This is an unprecedented thing, which should be made a tradition.
“Rapidly changing and evolving political context of Armenia contributed to the rise of the instances of hate speech”: expert of ECHR
” Politicians and activist public figures should be aware that by bringing themselves into the spotlight they open themselves to harsh criticism and that they are expected to tolerate it,” said Vasily Lukashevich, a Senior Lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights, in his recommendations on combatting hate speech in Armenia, sent to the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression.
No Addressee, No Responsibility: the law has created difficulties not only in public authorities, but also in the work of the media
In searching ways to get information from pubic authorities a journalist often faces a problem: who turn to – the press secretary or to the public relations office. How to get operative information!
“When you send an inquiry to the Information department or to the relevant unit, the answer to which you should receive at minimum five or maximum 30 days, you receive it 2-3 months later, or there happen cases that those inquiries are lost in the Staff of the Government”, Narek Kirakosyan, journalist from “Haikakan zhamanak” newspaper expresses his concerns.
During the post-revolution period only the lazy do not talk about false, or as they call it “fake” news. They spread like a virus, with attractive titles. Today, there are already the so-called “factories of fakes”, which organize targeted attack over the social networks on this or that official or political power, later their notes/posts happen to be in on this or that site, or the vice versa: from an unknown (or not that much) sites this news spreads over the social networks through the same “factory of fakes”.
When on February 13, samples of openly flowing sewage waters from Noubarashen residential area happened in the municipality by the members of the “Yerkir tsirani” faction in Yerevan City Council, and later with the efforts of the same faction, the journalists witnessed the permissiveness dominating in this body, former Mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan decided to “settle up” all these. Changes and amendments were made in the RA Law on “Local self-government in Yerevan city”. Minister of Justice Davit Haroutyunyan’s disposition about sessions of the municipality to be pubic and transparent did not impede the parliament to approve Margaryan and his supporter’s initiative to ban journalist’s free entry to the municipality.