The Government of the Republic of Armenia has approved the Government’s legislative initiative on the Draft Law on “Making Amendments and Addenda to the RA Law on Television and Radio”, which grants the Public TV Company the right to broadcast advertisements.
According to the draft justification, reserving the right to broadcast advertisements on Public Television is in the public interest and aims to promote the proper accomplishment of Public TV’s constitutional mission, that is to provide a variety of informational, educational, cultural and entertaining programs. In addition, Public Television has in fact been given the opportunity to broadcast sponsored programs.
As Armenia’s advertising field is quite limited, this opportunity will redistribute this field and will sharply target private TV companies that are not state-funded and operate exclusively due to advertising funds. In this case, the public interest cannot be interpreted other way than the interest of the current government and the restriction of the possibilities of television operating for dissent.
Furthermore, Public Television, which still has huge budgetary resources, simply needs effective management. In that case, its rating would not be inferior to private TV companies having less budgetary resources.
“Media Advocate” Initiative considers campaign against private televisions unacceptable. This is another step in suppressing dissent and free speech in private TV companies. If they lose a part of the already limited advertising budget, they are more likely to reduce their activity. Authorities were trying to deprive private companies of access to public multiplexing, but that desire had to face public and professional criticism and failed in the end, and here one may see the next attempt.
“Media Advocate” initiative once again notes and states that the authorities pursue a consistent policy of restricting press freedom.