Friday, May 21, 2010

OSCE media freedom representative meets Armenian President, encourages public discussion and transparency in broadcast reform

Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, discussed Armenia's ongoing media reforms, including a transformation from an analogue to a digital broadcasting system in a meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

"It is essential that the digital switchover is carried out in a transparent manner and that the tendering procedures are made public well in advance to ensure broadcast pluralism," Mijatovic said. She asked the authorities to guarantee that the broadcast reform is carried out with the active involvement of the public.

"The digital strategy of Armenia will define the broadcasting landscape for many years to come. It is essential that the legislation to be adopted grants access to diverse information and high quality programmes," she said.

"I am pleased by the readiness of the authorities to consider the OSCE's assessment of the recently introduced amendments to the draft Law on TV and Radio Broadcasting before its final adoption. I encourage all stakeholders to use this opportunity to present their views and recommendations," she added.

Mijatovic also met National Assembly Deputy Chairman Samvel Nikoyan, Economy Minister Nerses Yeritsyan, Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakosyan and the President of the National Commission for TV and Radio, Grigor Amalyan.

During the two-day visit, Mijatovic participated in a public discussion on Armenia's digital switchover, chaired by the Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Ambassador Sergey Kapinos. The event brought together government officials, parliamentarians, as well as broadcasters, non-governmental organizations and international human rights organizations.

"Digital convergence is a major technological development that has a strong impact on the media in the country," Kapinos said. "Thus it is very important that the digital switchover policies to be adopted by the Government will promote and safeguard media pluralism in Armenia."

Regarding further media legislation developments, the Representative commended the Armenian authorities on their steps to decriminalize defamation, and expressed hope that the OSCE's recommendations will be reflected in the relevant legislation, to be adopted in the near future.

Mijatovic concluded her visit by offering her Office's assistance in providing further expertise on Armenia's legislation covering all areas of media reform, to bring it in line with international standards and good practices.

Source: OSCE. Published in Yerevan on 18 May 2010

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