CPFE Quarterly Report (January – March 2010)

Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression

Quarterly Report On the Situation with Freedom of Speech and Violations of Rights of Journalists and Media in Armenia (January – March 2010)

Starting from 2010, the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression will provide interim quarterly reports, in addition to annual reports, on the situation with freedom of speech, including 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.

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 films and films depicting violence, as well as programs that have a negative influence on the health, mental and physical development of teenagers” for discussions and suggestions. After making some amendments, the commission approved the criteria’s on February 15. The decision was published in the 2nd issue of the Bulletin of 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 in the RA Law on Television and Radio, authored by Anahit Bakhshyan and Armen Martirosyan from the “Zharangutyun” [Heritage] faction. The draft intended to repeal the September 10, 2008 amendments to the law that froze all competitions for television and radio frequencies until July 20, 2010. Let us remind that, according to an overwhelming number of experts, the main objective of the 2008 amendment was to deprive “A1+” TV Company of air for two more years.

On March 17, the RA National Assembly adopted amendments to the RA Criminal Procedure Code in the second and final reading. According to the new amendments, a new paragraph was added to Article 16, Part 2, with the goal of removing a contradiction between the Criminal Procedure Code and the RA Law on Mass Media. Hereafter, if a court requires a journalist or a media outlet to disclose their source of information in accordance with Article 5 of the RA Law on Mass Media, then this may be done in a closed court hearing.

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