“PRESS CLUB” CYCLE: INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS AND ARMENIAN-TURKISH RELATIONS
On October 27, another “Press Club” show went on the air of “Yerkir Media” TV company. The cycle is produced under Yerevan Press Club project, supported by the Open Society Institute. The guests of the program host, YPC President Boris Navasardian were Artsvik Minasian, deputy of RA National Assembly, member of “Dashnaktsutiun” faction, and Amalia Kostanian, Head of Transparency International Anti-Corruption Centre. The discussion centered on the international commitments of Armenia in the light of Armenian-Turkish relations.
The next “Press Club” show will be aired on “Yerkir Media” on November 3, at 21.15.
PERSPECTIVES OF MEDIA SELF-REGULATION IN ARMENIA
On October 23-25 in Aghveran a seminar on “The Perspectives of Media Self-Regulation in Armenia” was held. The seminar was organized by Yerevan Press Club with the assistance of the Office of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
The report of Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Genocide Museum/Institute, was upon the media coverage of Armenian-Turkish relations. Mesrop Harutiunian, Expert of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, presented the legislative initiatives, prescribing liability for defamation and insult. YPC Expert Iren Aloyan talked about the European practice of media self-regulation systems. YPC President Boris Navasardian introduced a report on the activities of Media Ethics Observatory for 2008-2009. As it has been reported, Media Ethics Observatory (MEO) was formed on March 10, 2007 by the heads of Armenian media who supported the YPC self-regulation initiative (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 9-15, 2007). The mission of MEO consists in considering the complaints-appeals regarding the violation of the Code of Conduct of Media Representatives and rendering judgments on them. As of today, the Code of Conduct and its addendum, the Declaration on Election and Referendum Coverage Principles, are signed by 38 Armenian media, and 8 journalistic associations support the initiative. The participants of the seminar in Aghveran – the media and professional organizations joining the initiative – also discussed the suggestions on amending the Code of Conduct and the perspectives of the institutionalization of media self-regulation initiative in Armenia.
YPC MEDIA MONITORING ON ELECTIONS TO YEREVAN COUNCIL OF ELDERLY
The results of the Monitoring the Armenian TV Coverage of Elections to Yerevan Council of Elderly on May 31, 2009 are placed on YPC website (www.ypc.am) in the “Studies” section (in Armenian, English and Russian). The research was administered by Yerevan Press Club on April 16 – May 29, 2009 with the financial support of Open Society Institute.
AMENDMENTS TO THE RA CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE ON SECURITY OF INFORMATION SOURCES PASSED IN THE FIRST HEARING
On October 28 RA National Assembly passed the Draft Law “On the Amendments and Supplements to the RA Criminal Procedure Code” in the first hearing. The author of the draft Hovhannes Margarian, RA NA deputy from “Ordinates Yerkir” faction, has initiated two amendments on the security of information sources. Firstly, it is suggested to supplement Paragraph 2 of Article 16 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“The Publicity of Court Litigation”) by the following sentence: “An executive court session can also be assigned, whenever a court decision obliges the person, accomplishing information activities, as well as the journalist to disclose the source of information”. Secondly, it is envisaged to introduce a new provision (Point 6) in Paragraph 2 of Article 86 of the Code (“Witness”). According to this provision, a person, accomplishing information activities, and a journalist cannot be exacted as a witness and examined on the information source, unless, to disclose a grave or specially grave crime, there is court decision, and the necessity of the criminal protection of public interests prevails the public concern on the information source confidentiality, and all the other means to protect the public interests are exhausted.
The justification of the draft mentions that Article 5 of RA Law “On Mass Communication” prescribes a high level of protection of information sources, according to international standards. Meanwhile, it is stressed that as the practice shows the provision of the RA Law “On Mass Communication” contradicts Article 86 of Criminal Procedure Code. In the latter, persons, accomplishing information activities, and journalists are not listed among the ones who cannot be exacted as witnesses and examined to disclose the source of information. “There have already been cases when the preliminary investigation bodies were trying to interrogate the media heads in order to disclose the information source”, the justification notes. Besides, while Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of Law “On Mass Communication” sets forth executive court sessions whenever a person, accomplishing information activities, or a journalist are obliged to disclose the information source, Article 16 of Code does not provide for such a provision and contravenes the Law.
In fact, the amendments are called to harmonize the aforesaid Articles of the Criminal Procedure Code with the requirements of Article 5 of RA Law “On Mass Communication”.
THERE ARE UNUSED FREQUENCIES IN YEREVAN, BELIEVES CoE EXPERT
At the parliamentary hearings of October 22 on “The Broadcast Digitalization Process and the Consequences of Its Implementation in Armenia” (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 16-22, 2009) Council of Europe Expert Alec Thomas presented a report on the utilization of the UHF spectrum in Armenia. Namely, Alec Thomas announced that there are unused frequencies in Yerevan and suggested to implement an audit on frequencies. The reasonability of the audit was also mentioned by the representatives of state bodies, present at the hearings. Thereby a question occurs: why for an audit was not conducted while throughout many years a number of international documents, including several Resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe were making recommendations to hold a broadcast licensing competition, in which “A1+” TV company could take place. Instead, the officials have been declaring peremptorily that there are no free frequencies for holding a licensing competition.
OMBUDSMAN REPORT FOR 2008 PRESENTED TO THE RA NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
On October 26 RA Human Rights Defender Armen Harutiunian presented the Annual Report on the Activities of the Defender and the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms Violations in Armenia in 2008 to the RA National Assembly. As it has been reported, the ombudsman’s Annual Report was released on March 10, 2009 (for details see YPC Weekly Newsletter, March 6-12, 2009).