Monday, July 09, 2007

HRW Urges Armenia Not To Pass Media Bill

June 30, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging the Armenian parliament not to pass a bill that would impose severe restrictions on foreign broadcasters in the country, particularly RFE/RL.

The U.S.-based human rights group said in a statement that the bill would "clearly restrict access to a crucial independent news source" and deal a blow to "RFE/RL and to freedom of the media in general."

RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said in a statement that passage of the bill would "set a dangerous precedent for public media in all of the countries of the former Soviet Union."

Gedmin expressed the hope that "Armenia's parliamentarians will reconsider their support for this flawed bill."

The proposal would block access to certain frequencies and heavily fine the domestic retransmission of foreign-made broadcast programs.

It would also impose a tax of 70,000 Armenian drams, or more than $200, per program per day for every time a private station rebroadcast a foreign-produced program.

The bill has drawn sharp criticism from the OSCE, media rights groups, and Armenian opposition leaders.

The parliament in Yerevan on June 29 passed the bill but must confirm that vote in a second reading expected on July 2.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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