The transitional justice reforms announced by the Armenian government pose an extra threat to media as they deal, first of all, with the redistribution of property, with the authorities complaining repeatedly about a lack of control over the sector, a media expert has warned
At a news conference on Friday, Aghasi Yenokyan expressed his concerns over an increasing number of lawsuits against media outlets in the past year. “I am afraid the redistribution of property will affect first of all the media. An important fact is also the increase in number of court proceedings against the press. In the past year alone, 91 cases have been filed, a[n unprecedented] number not recorded in the previous five years put together. Media outlets are very frail and not absolutely rich organizations, which means that any lawsuit filed implies a loss of time and financial resources (to which the media are sensitive),” he said, describing the cases as an attempt to exercise unnecessary pressure.
Yenokyan also spoke of increasing sanctions against TV channels, considering many of the imposed fines fabricated and unjustified. He noted that such measures by the Commission on Television and Radio may eventually lead to stripping many TV companies of their license to air broadcasts.
The expert also highlighted potential threats stemming from a recently proposed draft law “On Television and Radio”. “The bill was elaborated by several NGOs without any involvement by the media. You know that TV channels need license to broadcast programs, whereas the current law proposes licensing only for multiplexers, i.e. – the structures providing only digital broadcasting. So these are only wishes offering the necessary regulations but the license, eventually, is given to finance rather than the quality. What looks like kind wishes has actually a very serious trap hiding behind,” he said.