Tuesday, 19 November

Draft Law has not Undergone International Expert Analysis

The draft version for modifications to the law on television and radio has not undergone analysis by international experts, Naira Zohrabyan of the Prosperous Armenia faction said during parliamentary discussions today.  She said that Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s statement that the law had undergone such examination was untrue. A number of issues were raised in the National Assembly today during the session discussing the proposed modifications and additions to the law on television and radio. Deputy Minister of the Economy Mushegh Tumasyan said that moving to digital television was a necessity in the government’s new approach and would allow a number of channels to be broadcast on the same frequency. Members of Parliament Anahit Bakhshyan and Artsvik Minasyan asked questions about the limitations to the number of television stations and why that number was set at 18 when there were four channels that could be used.  Internews Director Nune Sargsyan asked why the government had decided on a social package to give tuners to poor families instead of using that money and other funds to increase the number of television stations to accommodate all those operating today.  Grigor Amalyan said that the number was a temporary limitation in this transition period and was subject to change in the future. Anahit Bakhshyan also asked whether this was in essence a new law or modifications to a previously existing law and was skeptical that it would be possible to have a “well thought-out law” in such a short period of time.  Country of Law deputy Hovhannes Margaryan was concerned with the future of television stations in the marzes, specifically Shirak and Gala in the city of Gyumri.  If only one channel is to remain of the four currently operating in Shirak, what would happen to the staff of the other channels?  Committee Head Avetis Berberyan said that all the channels had the opportunity to extend their broadcast licenses until 2013.  A representative of Gala said that if only one television channel remains in a marz, it would mean a monopoly for television advertising as everyone would want to advertise on a digital channel. According to Press Club President Boris Navasardyan, all the points about advertising should be removed from the current draft law and introduced into the law on advertising.  He also said that a simpler draft law would be necessary in order to regulate the tender that will be organized on 10 June this year.

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