Tuesday, 24 June 2008

PACE demands from the Armenian authorities to grant a broadcasting licence to A1+ TV station without further delay

*UPDATE (26 June 2008): Final version of PACE resolution does not include demands of granting a broadcasting licence to A1+ TV station "without further delay". In general, it has been substantially toned down, under the influence of Armenian parliamentarians:

"The Assembly recalls that there is a need for a pluralistic electronic media environment in Armenia and, referring to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the denial of broadcasting license to A1+, calls on the licensing authority to now ensure an open, fair and transparent licensing procedure, in line with the guidelines adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 26 March 2008 and with the case law of the European Court of Human Rights."

There are speculations that this is a result of some kind of behind the scenes deal between John Prescott, Council of Europe and Armenian authorities, to ensure Serj Sargsyan's administration compliance with the Resolution, while avoiding strongly worded open statements. The other possibility is that this is a consequence of John Prescott's continuing disastrous role as PACE rapporteur on the Armenian elections, in a new format. This guy should be kept away from anything related to democracy, human rights, as far as possible. If you doubt, ask anyone from the UK...

In a separate but related development, Raffi Hovhannisyan of the opposition Heritage party - the only opposition MP from Armenia in PACE - refused to participated in further PACE sessions until Armenia gets back into European track of development and comply with its obligations in terms of democracy and human rights. This move was strongly criticised by... yes, John Prescott.

"The Assembly takes note of the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights finding a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights in relation to the refusal of the Armenian authorities to grant a broadcasting licence to A1+ TV station. The authorities should now grant it a broadcasting licence without further delay, in line also with a long-standing demand of the Assembly."

From the draft Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Armenia, which will be approved tomorrow.

I mentioned in my relevant post that the importance of the European Court of Human Rights decision should not be underestimated. It was a victory for the freedom of speech, and victory for the shut down independent/pro-opposition A1+ TV station versus Armenian government. As this Resolution also proves, from now on this issue will feature prominently on Armenia's European agenda, and pressures on the authorities to grant a broadcasting licence to A1+ TV station will intensify.


Onnik Krikorian said...

To be welcomed if it happens. Then other stations will have to compete in terms of delivering news the population can trust.

Even so, I would hope that A1 Plus adopt a higher standard of objective reporting. They're not at present although the reason is quite simple.

They lost a lot of staff when the station went off the air and I would imagine their salaries and budget are not the highest at present.

The situation would hopefully change in the event that they resumed broadcasting.

proudly anonymous said...

Onnik, that's my concern as well. I want A1+ back as much as the next person, but what form is it going to take? If it's going to be another H1 (except slanted for Levon), its value would be questionable. Some would argue that perhaps it would balance out the one-sided propaganda, but it would serve people better in returning to its original mission and as you said forcing other stations to be more balanced to keep up.

All this is of course moot because the chances of A1+ coming back and being given full independence are slim to none.

reflective said...

If accuracy in reporting is any kind of benchmark, I would argue that adding A1+ to the airwaves would decrease the quality of the TV media. Following their coverage in the last few years has been an exercise is cringing combined with dealing with the delusional.

Of course, such a decree from PACE is all political, and the push to have such a station on the air is obvious.

Some people got what they wanted: a weaker Armenia, one that will be more pliable to foreign demands for the near future.

Onnik Krikorian said...

You know, I think that as long as the pressure is kept on, this time there is less of a chance for the authorities to get away with keeping them off the air.

It's not like me to be optimistic about such things, but I think they stand a chance of returning. Most of the TV stations are so bad here that it just seems ridiculous to keep A1 Plus off the air for much longer.

I also think that if the CE is serious about its post-election demands, and if the government really is willing to make some concessions, this would be one of the most important.

However, A1 Plus would also have to improve the standards of its reporting, but once it came on the air, I'm sure it would. However, legislation about libel and codes of conduct for the media would have to be enforced.

And not just for A1 Plus. For all of the TV stations too.

Gauleiter said...

A WEAKER Armenia if a1+ is back on the air?!?!?
What a comment.
IS Europe weak with having differing opinions?
Is the US weaker because virtually the whole "mainstream" media is against George Bush?
These nations are stronger, as a matter of fact the STRONGEST in the world precisely because the people have choices and differing opinions and open discussion.
Only a fool, or a Sargsyan supporter, thinks dictatorship and closed media makes a nation and people stronger!

realarmenia said...

reflective said...

gauleiter, who said that Armenia is weaker if A1+ is back on the air?

proudly anonymous said...

"Some people got what they wanted: a weaker Armenia, one that will be more pliable to foreign demands for the near future."
The logic behind this is absolutely overwhelming. So let me guess, Levon and Nikol with their racist and hate-mongering speeches made Armenia become a member of PACE in 2001 and with the same speeches made PACE membership contingent upon certain requirements right around 1950.

It's really very simple; if you don't want "foreign demands" interfering, don't become a PACE member, reap the benefits and privileges, and then speak of non-existent "foreign" conspiracies when it becomes clear that you also have responsibilities such as ensuring democratic elections, protecting freedom of speech, not shooting at your own citizens for no apparent reason, not imprisoning people for their political activities, not jailing them for years based on one policeman's testimony, etc etc etc...It's a very straightforward process, really.

Anonymous said...

1. prerevolution a1+ and current one are two different stories. Current a1+ is the megaphone of revolutionists.

ironically haylur has changed its face to a better and more or less balanced one, while a1+ became a propaganda tool. This is the great loss for media and the harm which we see after the closure of a1+. Incumbents should not push media to radicalize.

2. ////IS Europe weak with having differing opinions?
Is the US weaker because virtually the whole "mainstream" media is against George Bush?

This is a good comment, but shows only semi-facts. In US and/or Europe any media covering what a1+ and HZH now will be shut up immediately.

However, I strongly believe that such crap as a1+ and HZH are now can act in Armenia effective with one rule of thumb: the aim of airing shouldn't be revolution, coup de'tat, defamation, treats, call for anarchy and other manipulation and misinformation prohibited in civilized countries such as in Europe and the USA.

3. on weakening Armenia

Armenia became weak and LTP revolutioners use this chance at best. does the resolution say reforming public media, bringing in independent meida, etc. It says open the most radical TV station at this moment. I can imagine in 1917 a resolution passsed in europe giving telegraph to Lenin.

Look, HZH became a defamation strong tool, no facts, no sources, assumtions are argumented in emotional swearing language. However no one risks to sue HZH, since Armenia became weak and Europe has a stick on his hand.
Divided and rule.
Divided by LTP, ruled by the USA and Europe.
Եվ սա միայն ծաղիկներն են, միջազգային ասպարեզում մեկ թիզ թուլացումը օգնելու է ոչ թե հայ ժողովրդին այլ օտարների շահերին ....

Ա1+ ը եթե մի քիչ մտահոգված է Հայաստանի ապագայով և պատրաստ է ԼՏՊ-ին ծառայելը և հեղափոխությունը երկրորդ պլան մղել, պետք է անհապաղ բանակցությունների մեջ մտնի իշխանությունների հետ և ներկայացնի իր ապագան, որը պետք է լինի հզոր, քննադատող, հավասարակշռված, բազմակողմանի, պարկեշտ ու պատասխանատու ՀԸ: Առավոտը այսօր փորձում է այդպիսին լինել, թեպետ իր մոտ էլ դա չի ստացվում:

me said...

David Harutyunyan (a Republican MP) meticulously chipped away at the resolution to make it completely toothless, and John Prescott, quite possibly the worst man for the job he's assigned to do, didn't question a single amendment to the recommendations he helped pen.

So much for being "pliable" to foreign demands in the future. Any other bullshit theories you'd like to throw out there, reflective?

reflective said...

Don't get so testy, me. Lighten up. Theory stands, BTW.

Anonymous said...

Reflective, Knowing how much you "love" LTP I thought you might like to know that he stated pretty much the same thing you have about a 'weak Armenia'
In this article in Armenia Liberty he is quoted as sayin "I am developing a conviction that the West is not interested in having a legitimate and strong government in Armenia,” charged Ter-Petrosian. “The weaker, the more vulnerable, the more Asian, the more undemocratic [that government is,] the better for them."

Anonymous said...

china has non-democratic and asian government, but the state isn't weak. In international relations democracy theories collapse.
I wish my government be democratic and my state be strong one at the same time.
But weakening the state in the name of democracy is somewhat similar to invading Iraq in the name of democracy, or Islamic revolution of Iran in the name of freedom. As a result Iran citizens lost freedom and Iraq lost citizens.

One should read Webber, Pareto and Machiavelli first before becoming zombies of good governance, liberal economy and democracy theories.

artmika said...

Closed TV Gets Government Payout

Acting on a recent verdict by the European Court of Human Rights, the Armenian government approved on Thursday payment of 30,000 euros ($39,000) in damages to an independent television station that was controversially pulled off the air in 2002. [...]

“I can not consider the compensation ordered by the European court to be full because the losses that we have incurred during all these years have been much greater,” Mesrop Movsesian, the A1+ owner and chief executive, told RFE/RL.

“But I wouldn’t want to accentuate on the financial aspect of the matter because the restoration of my rights in the Republic of Armenia is more important to me,” said Movsesian. He said A1+, which has remained afloat by publishing an online journal and producing programs for regional broadcasters, still hopes to return to the airwaves.

These hopes were dealt a serious blow in September when the Armenian parliament approved government-drafted legal amendments that froze the holding of fresh tenders for frequencies until July 2010. The government claimed that the measure is necessary for expediting Armenia’s planned transition to mandatory digital broadcasting by 2012.

But government critics believe its real purpose is to fend off renewed Western pressure for the reopening of A1+. In a June resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) urged Armenia to "ensure an open, fair and transparent licensing procedure" and allow A1+ to apply for a new license.