On the Situation of Freedom of Speech and Violations of Rights of Journalists and Media in Armenia

Media Activities Environment

The Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression prepared and published three interim quarterly reports in 2011 (January-March, April-June, July-September) on the situation of the freedom of speech and violations of media and journalists’ rights in Armenia.

This report covers the year of 2011 and includes the following: legislation on the freedom of speech and media, amendments to relevant legislation and related processes; the economic environment and its influence on media; political factors and their influence on media; and violations of the rights of media and journalists.

The media field was marked by the following legislative changes.

On May 26, 2011, the Armenian National Assembly (parliament) adopted all suggested changes and amendments to the Armenian Law on Television and Radio, as well as to the Law on Advertising.” As a result of these changes, the ban on hidden advertising was annulled, and the minimally acceptable length of commercial advertising was extended to 14 minutes per hour, instead of the previous 10 minutes per hour. Actually, these changes merely legalized the factual excess of the minimally acceptable length of commercial advertising, which was systematically cited by organizations that conducted appropriate monitoring of television programming.

The legislative changes also introduced prohibitions on rebroadcasting television channels, preventing them from airing advertising. This prohibition also applies to the spiritual-cultural TV Channel “Shoghakat.”

Such a rush in adopting the legislative changes and amendments embarrassed journalist organizations since the task group headed by the Armenian Human Rights Defender had not completed its work on the draft amendments and changes to the Law on Television and Radio yet.

On May 30, the Human Right Defender wrote a letter to the head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport introducing the draft amendments and changes to the Law on Television and Radio, together with special opinions of the task group members on separate issues.

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