Clinton warns Armenia of 'media freedom'

Clinton said on Monday she had raised U.S. concerns about an Armenian law that could limit pluralism on radio and television.

Clinton warns Armenia of 'media freedom'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday she had raised U.S. concerns about an Armenian law that could limit pluralism on radio and television and was told that the government might change it in the autumn.

Clinton, nearing the end of a five-nation tour of the former Soviet bloc, said she had "raised concerns about media freedom" in her meetings on Sunday with Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan and other Armenian officials.

"I know many of you are concerned about the government's recent changes to the law on TV and radio and these are concerns that the United States, the OSCE and the European Union share," Clinton told a group of civil society activists and journalists at a Yerevan arts centre.

"I raised this issue and was told that the government is open to amending the law this fall," she added. "We will look forward to working with the Armenian government on this specific issue and more generally to strengthen protections for journalists."

Sarksyan has signed into law a blueprint adopted by the national parliament last month which regulates the introduction of digital television and radio in Armenia.

Under the law, the Armenian capital Yerevan would have 18 digital television channels and 12 radio stations, while other regions -- just nine television channels and 4 radio stations.

Opponents at home and media experts of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have warned the new law could put serious curbs on pluralism in the Caucasus nation.

They say the law seriously cuts the number of channels which are currently broadcast. Yerevan alone currently has more than 20 television channels.

Critics also point to sometimes murky rules for obtaining licences for mobile telecoms, satellite and Internet links.

Reuters

 

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