Statement of 6 media organizations

The agenda of the RA National Assembly includes the second hearing of the package of draft amendments to the RA Laws “On Television and Radio”, “Regulations of the National Commission on Television and Radio”, “Regulations of the RA National Assembly”, “On State Duty”. Despite the few improvements against the previous version of the package strongly criticized by our organizations in the statement of February 3, 2009, the document, as we see it, remains far from the demands of the time. Continue reading “Statement of 6 media organizations”

Turkey-led Nagorno-Karabakh plan?

According to the plan, which Hurriet Daily News claims is part of a Turkey brokered Nagorno-Karabakh deal, Armenia would give away some towns surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh region to Azerbaijan in a specific timetable and repatriate Azeris fled the region; administration of NKR would be handed to a provisional body. Furthermore, the newspaper says Karvachar (Kelbajar) would be handed out to Azerbaijan, the railroad and highway between Azerbaijan and Armenia would be opened and international peacekeeprs would be deployed at the border region between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The report has since been called absurd and false by both Armenian and Azerbaijani officials.
One wonders, however, how could all these details emerge out of thin air? Did Hurriet just invent it all? Why would it want to do it? Who do we trust?

Online journalists now jailed more than those in any other medium

Reflecting the rising influence of online reporting and commentary, more Internet journalists are jailed worldwide today than journalists working in any other medium. In its annual census of imprisoned journalists, released today, the Committee to Protect Journalists found that 45 percent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or online editors. Online journalists represent the largest professional category for the first time in CPJ’s prison census. Continue reading “Online journalists now jailed more than those in any other medium”

Serious setback of press freedom registered in South Caucasus

Reporters Without Borders international organization has just released its annual press freedom index, compiled annually, which has revealed a serious setback in press freedom in the South Caucasus region.
The index. which is compiled by filling in a questionnaire with 49 criteria that assess the state of press freedom in each country, coveres 173 countries overall. This year’s index has revealed, that the most serious degradation of press freedom in the world has taken place in our region: in Georgia and Armenia.
Armenia, which was on 77-th position on the index last year has slipped down to 102-nd position, most probably due to the introduction of emergency rule on March 1-20, illegal pre-emptive censorship applied in the same period in Yerevan’s publishing houses as well as numerous attacks against journalists and the continous state control of the broadcast sphere. Interestingly, Turkey shares the 102-nd position with us.
A more dramatic fall has been registered in Georgia’s rating: the country was on the rather advanced, 66th position in 2007, but has fallen to 120th position.
Azerbaijan continues to steadily fall in the index: a fall by 11 points was registered this year. From 137th position of last year Azerbaijan is now on the 150th. Iran is again on position 166, thus concluding the picture of restrictive and undemocratic South Caucasian region.
The situation has very slightly improved in Russia with the coming of president Dmitri Medvedev, although, recalling their media coverage of the war in Georgia, I find this rather surprising. An improvement by 3 points was registered here, the country has moved from 144th to 141st slot in the RSF index.
The first slots in the rating are again occupied by Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway. The index is tailed by Myanmar (Burma), Turkmenistan, North Korea, Eritrea.

Needs Assessment of Armenia's Public Television Company

Here is an interesting piece of information from the report – “Haylur” attracts a substantial audience. Audience research by AGB Nielsen and Eurodata placed H1’s news programme as ninth in the list of hte most watched programmes in Armenia in 2007. But viewing appears to have declined in 2008. From a high of 352,000 viewers in February and a market share of 34%, audiences have dropped month by month to 147,000 in June and a share of 22%. We did not have access to statistics for other broadcasters for this period so cannot say whether the drop is specific to PTV or part of a general trend.
However, we did do a spot-check in thee week of our visit to compare H1’s figures with its nearest news rival, Shant TV. On july 15, “Haylur” attracted ratings of 6.2% and a share of 18.1%, behind Shant Tv’s “horizon” which had 10.2% ratings and a 26.7% share. This may have just been a bad day for “Haylur” or a good day for “horizon”. Shant may have had a stronger peak-time programme schedule that evening. But one observer offered the view that Shant’s news was livelier and carried more stories that “are closer to the people”. We are not in a position to make a comparative judgment but it is noteworthy that “Haylur”, while watched extensively throughout the country, is facing stiff competition.
The report is not yet online but it was mentioned during the presentation that it will be available at the OSCE website. The assessment is quite interesting, if nothing else at least for showing that trust towards H1 is declining.

Via Office Zombie

Unprecedented levels of violence against journalists in August

August 2008 was unprecedented with the amount of violence against media representatives. Gagik Hovakimyan of “Haykakan Zhamanak” (August 1), freelancer Gagik Shamshyan (August 5), Gohar Veziryan of “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” (August 6), Lusine Barseghyan of “Haykakan Zhamanak” (August 11) and Hrach Melkumyan of the Armenian service of Radio Liberty (August 18 ) were all subjected to attacks and illegal actions of police, court officials and unidentified males for their affiliation with media outlets known for their criticism of the authorities and oligarchs.
This new wave of attacks against the freedom of speech and expression comes at a time, when the Republic of Armenia is claiming its willingness to implement the provisions of the PACE resolutions 1609 and 1620 issued in the aftermath of the March 1, 2008 violence in the country, which includes a clause on improving the situation with the freedom of speech in the country.
A group of 7 non-governmental organizations have issued a statement expressing their concern with the developments and pointing to the unwillingness of the authorities to undertake effective measures to stop violence and interference with the professional activities of journalists and media representatives.
In a poll marked by widespread irregularities, vote buying and bullying, power was handed down by incumbent president Robert Kocharian to his protege Serge Sargsian. Administrative resources were used extensively to control the media coverage of the election campaign and ensure the victory of government preferred candidate, which resulted in severe degradation of the media and freedom of speech situation in the country as well as provoked a bloody clash between the opposition supporters and police forces in the center of capital Yerevan on March 1, 2008.

Two Polish journalists denied entry to Armenia?

Polish PassportReporters Without Borders has circulated a press release, calling on Armenia to lift bans on two Polish journalists who, according to the media watchdog, have been denied entry into the country in the past six days. The press release reported the case of Wojciech Jagielski, a well-known foreign correspondent working for the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, on 14 August. The journalist was turned back at the land border between Armenia and Georgia, where he had been covering the war. He had planned to drive from Tbilisi to the Armenian capital of Yerevan in order to get a flight to Warsaw from there. He was forced to return by road to Tbilisi. Jagielski was told by the immigration official, that he was on a list of journalists banned throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States.

A similar problem happened with Reporter Marcin Manon of TVP, the Polish public TV station, who was turned back on arriving in Yerevan on 12 August on a flight from Warsaw which the Polish government had chartered to evacuate its citizens from Georgia. He had hoped to continue to Georgia but immigration officials told him he was persona non grata in Armenia and had to return to Warsaw. Gazeta Wyborcza told Reporters Without Borders it believes there is a list of undesirable journalists that is used by all the countries that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile the Armenian authorities were quick to deny such charges. According to RFE/RL the immigration authorities in Yerevan denied reports that two Polish journalists covering the war in neighboring Georgia have been barred from entering Armenia because of being allegedly blacklisted by Russia.

Looks like we have the word of the Reporters Without Borders,Gazeta Wyborcza and two Polish journalists against the word of the Armenian authorities. I’ve decided who to trust. Have you?

FOX news cuts Ossetian girl blaming Georgia's President for war

30 seconds – that’s how much time FOX news, the Bush propaganda machine is prepared to allocate to alternative views on Georgia-Russia war.

In this video posted on you tube, as soon as the girl and her aunt start saying that Georgia was responsible for the attack on their town, the Fox News presenter cuts her off with a bogus claim that they are about to go to commercial break, even though they just returned from one less than 2 minutes before. When they return, he gives them only 10 seconds to speak and then adds “Well, that’s certainly what Russia wants you to think” before cutting their mics.

Attack on Armenian journalist… again!

The journalist of pro-opposition “Haykakan Zhamanak” (Armenian Times) newspaper Lusine Barseghyan was attacked on August 11, 2008. The girl was beaten by ‘skin-heads’ and was made to understand, that the attack is related to her professional activities.
This is not the first attack on a journalist in Armenia and it is evidently not the last one. Journalist x, y, z were beaten this year because they criticized a, b, c semi-criminal government official, oligarch, mayor, district head, police chef… feudal lord.
There are today two types of people creating news content in Armenia – real journalists and ‘palace poets’ – those, who say they are journalists, but who will only write something, once they have checked if their owner doesn’t object.
Real journalists in this country are further categorized into those who have been beaten, and those, who haven’t been beaten… yet. Because, you see, in order to practice journalism, the journalist has to mirror the reality in the country. And when this or that ‘feudal lord’ sees their ugly face in that mirror, they send their little army of ‘skin heads’ to beat the journalist who held that mirror to their face.
Can anything be done? I guess no. Because the president of this country is the biggest ‘feudal lord’… because the opposition in this country also consists of similar ‘feudal lords’… because nobody is really interested in having journalists mirror the reality in this country – because the reality is ugly and because those, who have some kind of power in this country, make use of that ugly reality to gain profits and retain that power… because everything has been done since th 90’s to make sure, that the media doesn’t gain power and doesn’t turn into media business which serves the functions of informing people, rather then being the servant of power elites. Unfortunately, the only advice I can give journalists in Armenia, is to carry bandages and pain-killer medication with them at all times… because the beatings will continue.

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