Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression
Annual Report 2010
On the Situation with Freedom of Speech and Violations of Rights of Journalists and Media in Armenia
The Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression prepared and published three interim quarterly reports in 2010 (January-March, April-June, July-September) on the situation with freedom of speech and violations of media and journalists’ rights in Armenia.
This report covers the year of 2010 and includes the following:
1. Legislation on the freedom of speech and media, amendments to such legislation and related processes;
2. The economic environment and its influence on the media;
3. The political environment and its influence on the media;
4. Violations of rights of the media and journalists.
In August-September 2010, the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression (CPFE) conducted an expert survey, the aim of which was to reveal the level of media freedom in Armenia, taking into account the influence of legal, political and economic factors. Fifty experts – heads or representatives of well-known country-wide and capital-based mass media and journalistic organizations – took part in the survey.
The CPFE published the results of the survey in the report “Level of Media Freedom in Armenia” in December 2010.
The summary of the survey is presented below in a relevant section. It should be mentioned, that based on these results Armenia appears to be on the dangerous line between the countries classified into groups with ‘partly free’ and ‘not free’ media.
1. Legislation on the Freedom of Speech and Media
The beginning of 2010 was marked by some legal initiatives on the freedom of speech and media, particularly:
On February 4, the National Commission on Television and Radio posted on its website a draft of “criteria for erotic TV and radio programs, horror movies and films depicting violence, as well as programs that have negative influence on the health, mental and physical development of teenagers” for discussions and suggestions. After making some amendments, the commission approved the criteria on February 15. The decision was published in the 2nd issue of the Bulletin of the RA Normative Acts and went into effect on March 12. According to experts, the document is still extremely raw, despite the amendments; it leaves room for arbitrary and subjective decisions, because the criteria are not clear and measurable.
On February 24, the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia voted against the draft amendments to the RA Law “On Television and Radio” authored by Anahit Bakhshyan and Armen Martirosyan from the “Zharangutyun” (Heritage) faction. The draft intended to repeal amendments of September 10, 2008 to the law that froze all competitions for television and radio frequencies until July 20, 2010. According to an overwhelming number of experts, the main objective of the 2008 amendment was to retain the broadcasting status quo and deprive “A1+” TV Company of air for two more years.