On August 7, the TVRC spread a message with which it tried to respond to the article under heading “No reform, just maintaining the status quo” published on July 31 by the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression. In fact, we tackled upon two topics in our publication: the problem of private broadcasting network, i.e. tender for licensing the operation of the multiplex, and related to it legislative change, which the previous authorities (quite possibly together with the TVRC) made secretly from the media organizations, without engaging them or at least without public discussions.
on August 9, on the successive day of the government session, the journalists were forbidden to enter the conference hall. They were surprised. Moreover, the representatives of the media outlets, one after another, started live streaming over Facebook and leaving comments: “Arman Yeghoyan, the Prime Minister’s press secretary forbids the journalists to move around the government building”, “artificial impediment by the new government: welcome to new Armenia”, “there are new customs, new impediments in the Government; the Prime Minister’s press secretary does not allow to go up to the conference hall: why? By which law?” Some even went further up to “…what about the revolution…?”
The Prime Minister’s Press secretary Arman Yeghoyan explained the decision on the ban as follows: “The security regime is being violated. It is hard to control who is going where in the building.”
Another change made in the “Law on TV and Radio” turned up, which was passed under strict secrecy.
The unknown to us legislative change was found out quite unexpectedly. When recently we were getting familiar with the terms and conditions of the tender for licensing the digital broadcasting private network (multiplex) announced by the TV and Radio Commission, we noticed that unlike the previous cases, this time the applications will be received not within three, but six months. We tried to find out what it is conditioned by. Armen Mkrtchyan, member of the TVRC said, “It is a requirement of the law.”
New Armenia, new situation, also in the field of freedom of expression. The new government has adopted “digital democracy” modus operandi. The high rank officials, starting with the head of the Government, in on-line regime tell about their activities and decisions made, thus reporting to the society; they refer to issues, which are the focal point of the public discussions. Attaching importance to this tendency as a new precondition for the development of the freedom of expression, however, we will state several worrying facts.
Domestic instances have been exhausted: the person who insulted and exerted pressure on the journalist, remained unpunished
On May 25, the Court of Cassation refused to take over a proceeding the complaint by Hripsime Jebejyan, reporter from “Aravot.am”, against the decisions of the court of first instance and the Appellate court, which relate to the impeding of the journalist’s professional activity.
The TV and Radio commission is violating the law: this year no tender has been announced for the private multiplexor, i.e. for the licensing of the operation of digital broadcasting network.
Since 2015, the RA Law on TV and Radio obliges to announce the first tender for the licensing of the operation of the private multiplexor by May 1, 2016: Afterwards, if the tender fails or if there is no winner, one year after its announcement, it is required that a new tender is announced.
The administrative court made a decision to start a new trial of the case “CHAP” LLC, founder of “GALA” TV company vs. Gyumri tax inspection. This case has a history of 11 years. The decision to try the case at the RA administrative court was made after the decision by the ECHR on May 4, 2017 and the quashing the decision at the RA court of Cassation on April 7, 2018.
With a counter-claim, “CHAP” LLC representative Karen Toumanyan claims to invalidate the decision about the fine of AMD 25212700 made by the tax bodies in 2007 (in fact AMD 25.116.700 was levied from the founder of the TV company). The court should find out whether the administrative fine is founded or not. Moreover, the dispute should be tried in the criminal domain, as the matter is about abuse of a huge amount of money, which was not taken into consideration when the case went through three RA judicial instances, starting 2007, something that the European Court of Human Rights drew attention to.
It is a global trend – in parallel with increase of the online media, the newspapers circulation is falling, financial resources are diminishing, and many editorial offices are closed. In the digital age, when the information and news are appearing more quickly on the screens of the computers, iPad, or mobile phone than оnto the pages of newspapers, the print media is facing serious challenges. Naturally, Armenia is not an exception. But besides the objective difficulties, there are many other problems in the Armenian market of newspapers.
The journalist of the Ukrainian ICTV company Evgeniy Lesnoy and cameraman Evgeniy Tour attempted to enter Armenia from the Georgian border crossing point, but they were turned back. The TV company’s producer Oksana Dykhnich was the first to respond to this incident. She wrote on her Facebook page that their film crew had appointments and that it was accredited at the Foreign ministry according to the protocol, but they were officially denied entry on the border crossing. According to Dykhnich, the reason for this was that the journalist and the cameramen had worked “at the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone” (in Donbas and Lugansk – L.H.), and Russia “blacklisted” them.
The National Commission on TV and radio announced the organized by it second tender for the licensing of the operation of the private multiplexor as failed. The first tender organized a year ago had the same fate. This means that the public network of digital broadcasting, i.e. public multiplexor will still have the monopoly and will dictate its conditions in the field.