With regard to the new law, journalistic organizations are concerned that it has been drafted and submitted to the parliament without the participation of civil society and that law does not convey the concerns they have voiced over the years.
Davit Harutyunyan, RA Minister of Justice, accused journalistic organizations of laziness and inactivity, noting that the draft law "On Television and Radio" was put on the "e-draft" but no proposal was made by the civil society.
During the press conference entitled “Concerns of Journalistic Organizations about the Draft Law on Television and Radio” at Media Center on November 30, Ashot Melikyan, Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, referring to Davit Harutyunyan's accusations, advised not to consider putting the draft bill on E-draft.am website for 2 weeks to be a public discussion and not to turn it into "Nazar’s flag".
“We opened and saw that it was put on the website from March 23 till April 7. It was the period of parliamentary and council elections, when the whole journalistic community was busy with it, and we did not really notice it. But in accordance with the democratic principles, non-governmental organizations should be involved in the process, not when the bill is ready but in the process of analyzing the situation, identifying problems, developing the concept,” Ashot Melikyan said, adding that journalistic organizations have been speaking about the necessity of adopting a new law for 7 years, and they proposed concepts and the draft law which, however, were not taken into account.
The Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression also presents what recommendations they have and are convinced that in the case of adoption of the law, they can make positive changes in the field of television. He considers the simplification of the licensing procedure of private multiplexes to be primary as it is currently tailored to the large business.
“You have to be able to create a multiplex on the borders of one or several regions. The new law says that the private multiplex should cover the whole territory of Armenia, be privatized, and it can be a great oligarch's game. Meanwhile, Georgia has created three private multiplexes in the digitalization process, the regional TV companies have created small multiplexes and continued their activities. And after our digitalization process, local small-TV companies appeared on the edge of closing.”
The latter also notes that the procedure for registering and licensing broadcasting companies should be simplified as digital broadcasting capabilities differ substantially from the capabilities of analogue broadcasting, so the definition of critical standards is already tricky.
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Derenik Malkhasyan, editor/events coordinator at “Media Center”
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