On April 7, Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum came up with a statement regarding the broadcasting of Russian TV channels Russia 1 and the First Channel in Armenia.
Below is the text of the statement:
“Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) is deeply concerned with the programmes and reports overtly propagating xenophobia and spawning hatred between nations, broadcasted by Russian TV channels Russia 1 and the First Channel which are rebroadcasted in the Republic of Armenia on the basis of intergovernmental agreements. This phenomenon has become more evidential in the context of recent political developments around Ukraine.
In this regard, there has been the noteworthy decision of the Russian Public Collegium for Press Complaints in response to the complaint filed by the Ukrainian Commission for Journalistic Ethics against the “Weakly News” (“Vesti Nedeli”) programme of Russia 1 TV channel (aired on December 8, 2013) and its anchorman Dmitry Kiselyov. The Public Collegium has characterized the disputed story of the programme as “propagandistic in style”, “with fake video footage” and “low quality, at times offensive” TV material which “does not contribute to trust between nations”. It is no coincidence that the name of Dmitry Kiselyov has been included in the list of “undesirable persons” for the EU. Calls for suspension of broadcasting of the Russian TV channels, particularly news and political programmes, which carry out an aggressive campaign to ‘manipulate’ the public opinion, were made in a number of countries of EU and Eastern Partnership.
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform finds dissemination of Russian propaganda of this kind in the territory of Republic of Armenia to be illegal as it contradicts the RA Constitution (Article 14.1), the national legislation (particularly the RA Law “On Television and Radio”, Article 24, Points b, d, e, g), as well as a number of international conventions that Armenia has joined, requiring prohibition of dissemination of xenophobia and hatred between nations. Such content is detrimental to information security of our country and its relations with other nations, as well as destabilizes the public life. As a matter of fact, Russia 1 and the First Channel, occupying radio frequencies which constitute a limited public resource, act against the national interests of Armenia.
Similar effects are observed in some other Russian TV channels, such as Russia 24, NTV, TVC, etc., rebroadcasting in Armenia via cable network or on other basis, which further aggravate the informational and moral damage caused to the Armenian citizens.
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform demands the RA authorities to:
• Consider the issue of legality of the operation of Russia 1 and the First Channel based on the intergovernmental agreements;
• Revise the above mentioned agreements and suspend the broadcasting of the two named TV channels via national broadcasting network, if the propaganda of xenophobia and hatred between nations would not stop, as well as announce licensing competitions for the frequencies released.”
FIRST LITIGATION BETWEEN MEDIA AFTER COPYRIGHT LAW AMENDED
On April 9, the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan started hearing the lawsuit of “Investigative Journalists” NGO versus the founder of the news portal www.1in.am, “Arajin Lratvakan” LLC.
The reason for bringing the legal action were the articles of “Hetq”, online edition of “Investigative Journalists”, which had been reprinted by www.1in.am without proper citing. The lawsuit, filed on January 16 and taken into consideration on January 20, 2014, initially challenged two articles of “Hetq”, republished by www.1in.am. Later the lawsuit was supplemented by another six articles, which, as plaintiff believes, www.1in.am also used with violation of copyright.
According to Grigory Balasanian, the lawyer of “Investigative Journalists”, initially the plaintiff demanded from www.1in.am to remove all 8 articles from the website and pay a compensation in the amount of 200,000 drams (about 350 euros). However, due to the fact that the disputed materials were reprinted a long time ago and, therefore, the question of their removal has lost relevance, the plaintiff has modified this demand. “We insist that www.1in.am add relevant links to publications”, the lawyer said. At the same time the plaintiff kept insisting on compensate the damage caused by infringement of copyright. The lawyer of “Investigative Journalists” stressed that the plaintiff didn’t have a goal to undermine the financial stability of the www.1in.am, but “we just want our work to be respected”.
This is the first litigation between media outlets in Armenia, after the RA Law “On Copyright and Related Rights” has been amended (adopted by the parliament on September 30 and entered into force on November 9, 2013). In particular, the acting Law was supplemented with the Article 22.1, establishing conditions for full or partial reproduction of print/online media pieces by another print/online media. Also the Article 66 of the Law has been supplemented with a provision providing compensation for damage in the amount of the 100-fold to 200-fold of a minimum wage (the latter established in Armenia in the amount of 1,000 AMD or less than 2 euros) – in the case of violation the Article 22.1.
In other words, the outcome of this court case could set a precedent in the Armenian judicial practice.