Regulation of Mass Media Field: Necessity and Risks
“Online medias should pay taxes and become legal entities. Regulation of online medias cannot restrict freedom of speech. Promiscuity and anarchy are too much and who tries to work in this field face numerous difficulties. Besides, the society distrusts the journalists and mass media at all. If some medias do not verify the information they provide, that is they have no responsibility towards the society, it impacts all the mass media means. People say I read in media. This should change and by a regulation,” Hakob Avetiqyan, Editor-in-Chief of Azg daily newspaper, said during the discussion at Media Center.

The main issue of the discussion was the announcement made by 15 editors that requires to make steps for the regulation of the online media  by establishing equal conditions related to tax liabilities, transparency and accountability, as well as struggling against plagiarism toughly.

Columnist Armen Grigoryan who considers the regulation of online media as a threat to the freedom of speech accepts that there are serious problems in the field but he is concerned about the fact that the tax authority is involved in the media field.  

“The most corrupted body of Armenia is involved in a field where it has the greatest chance of influencing. That is an extra opportunity for the tax authority to use their power for other purposes. Another problem is that the statement calls on the authorities to restrict media coverage of activities. The biggest restrictor of freedom of expression in all countries of the world is the government. When they are given an additional instrument, the authorities will try to use it for other purposes,” the speaker said and added that he is against the regulation of the field by the authorities.  

What concerns plagiarism, Grigoryan thinks that it is very difficult  to prevent plagiarism  on the Internet and good results can be achieved only by a competition.  

Editor-in-Chief of “168 hours” newspaper and website Satik Seyranyan disagreed with Armen Grigoryan. “If the government is bad it does not mean that we should not have government. If we are dissatisfied with the tax authorities, it does not mean that there should not be a control. We call on working on equal terms. Not only we, the undersigned, should pay taxes, create products, keep employees, maintain editorials and suddenly parasites appear and establish themselves without efforts by stealing and other ways. This situation is beneficial for the authorities and the forces that want to appear in the political arena.”

The speaker emphasized that they, the representatives of the printed media, have conquered the freedom of speech during years and it is strange that some people try to protect it from the editors.

“We know its price. Freedom of speech is not sloppy, stolen, illegal material. Bless God, now whoever wherever wants can express himself and the statement of the editors is about the protection from the plagiarism and working in equal term,” Seyranyan said.  

The speakers said that RA Law on “Mass Media” needs reviewing as the law was adopted in 2003 and it is old.

Information security expert Samvelb Martirosyan said that the issues raised by the editors cannot solved in the legal field. At the same time he said that “not solving these issues can result in bankruptcy of media as the parasites steal and sell the media products.”

Samvel Martirosyan differentiated that there are stealing medias that are in a normal field, the issue with them should be solved in the court. The other group is the websites serving the interests of parties and different businesses: “To regulate this field is difficult as the parties and media are mixed. There are such that are not media, someone just creates websites quickly and steals materials to earn money. It is impossible to find them. Some of them even do not act in Armenia. They sit in Krasnodar and make an Armenian news agency, there is also one that works from Nikolskaya Plaza, gets funding from Russia but works in our field. The expert says that the regulation of the online media should not be in legal field but in the field of self-regulation and increasing public awareness. When a regulation is inserted, it goes to censorship, when it is not regulated anarchy occurs. Therefore, only the work with the society can make results.”  

Arevik Sahakyan, Program coordinator at “Media Center”

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