PRESS RELEASE

April 29, 2006

American University of Armenia
40 Marshal Baghramian
Yerevan 375019 ARMENIA
Tel: (37410) 512-522
Fax: (37410) 512-523
Contact: Diana Manukyan
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: http://www.aua.am/

Public Lecture at AUA Law Department

YEREVAN -- The American University of Armenia (AUA) Department of Law,
in partnership with the NGO "Internews" Media Support, hosted a public
lecture by David Sandukhchyan (attorney, head of the legal service
of the "Internews" Media Support NGO), entitled "Current issues of
legal regulation of mass media" on Saturday, April 29, 2006.

Mr. Sandukhchyan discussed the impact of current media legislation on
freedom of speech in Armenia. He commented that, "According to PACE
resolutions and reports of international media freedom organizations,
the basic problem is the lack of the full independence of the
broadcasting regulatory body. The television and radio regulatory
body is formed of top political officials of the country through
non-transparent procedures and, therefore, cannot be fully independent
and neutral. Parallel with other deficiencies of the broadcasting
legislation, the absence of political neutrality of the regulatory
authority negatively affects the freedom of the broadcasting media
in Armenia."

The aim of the lecture was to raise media awareness about current legal
protections for Armenian journalists and the regulation of mass media
activities in general. Topics included the independence of TV and radio
companies; legislative guarantees of the Mass Media independence from
state authorities; protection of media professionals against imperfect
legislation; and the inadequate application of current legislation.

Mr. Sandukhchyan concluded with his view of the primary issue of
Armenian media legislation and enforcement; i.e., the lack of a
provision in the ROA Law on TV and Radio that guarantees broadcasting
media independence from political authorities. He noted, however, that
there is room in the criminal, civil and administrative legislation to
develop efficient protection of journalists' professional rights. "The
main problem...is the lack of enforcement of the legislation protecting
the media professionals. Despite a number of violent acts against
journalists that took place during the last three years, the relevant
article of the Criminal Code was applied by the Armenian courts only
once. None of the cases of violence against journalists by the police
[were] disclosed and no...law enforcement authority was panelized,"
Sandukhchyan stated.

The event was free and open to the public. Students, representatives
from international and local NGOs, and the representatives of media
attended the lecture.

Photos attached: David Sandukhchyan, Head of the legal service of the
"Internews" Media Support NGO.