YEREVAN, 21 June 2006 - Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, said today that Armenia has made significant progress in improving media legislation, but actual media pluralism remained limited to the print media.
"I am pleased that since 2005 there have been very few atrocities reported against journalists. It is similarly welcome that criminal libel cases have not been initiated since several years," said Haraszti, who was on a three-day official visit to Armenia at the invitation of the Government.
"However, the coverage of political life still remains one-sided, both in private and public-service broadcasting. This confines actual pluralism to the diverse, at times even partisan, but economically very weak print media."
The aim of the visit, co-organized by the OSCE Office in Yerevan, was to assess the state of freedom of the media, giving special attention to the upcoming changes in the legal framework, required by amendments to the Constitution adopted in November 2005.
The OSCE Representative expressed his appreciation for having been received by President Robert Kocharian. He also met the Chairman of the National Assembly Tigran Torosyan, and other government officials, as well as broadcast operatives, journalists and media NGOs.
"We see good pieces of legislation, such as the Constitutional amendments on broadcasting, and the Freedom of Information law," added Mr. Haraszti. "However, implementation is behind the blueprints in some fields. For example, the broadcast law reform required by the Constitution is still missing, as are the implementation rules for the law on Freedom of Information."
Haraszti suggested that pluralizing the composition of the broadcasting boards would lead to diversity in the licensing of private broadcasters, and to more objective news coverage in public television, saying that: "Media reform should be accelerated, especially in view of the upcoming elections."
The Representative on the Freedom of the Media regularly conducts assessment visits in the OSCE region and presents his reports to the Organization's Permanent Council. The reports include an analysis of the media situation and offer practical recommendations for improving the freedom of the press.