ARMENIA

1 Introduction

Armenia (officially the Republic of Armenia) is a landlocked country bordered by Turkey, Georgia, Iran and Azerbaijan. It was former Soviet Union territory, only gaining independence on 23rd, 1990. As such, the media landscape of Armenia has faced significant issues in relation to the liberal ideologies pertaining to the media, which the country, as an emerging democracy, should adhere too. These issues include a lack of trust in the media, inability to access the internet and online media sources and the assumption that media content is influenced by media owners and their political affiliations. During the 2008 presidential elections, conflict arose in protest against alleged electoral fraud. A 20-day state of emergency was declared which imposed heavy media and internet censorship on the region- a media blackout. More currently, following changes to the Constitution in 2010, concerns are being raised over media regulations and libel laws whereby judicial harassment of the media is reaching its peak and creating a climate of self-censorship amongst journalists. The website Reporters Without Borders currently ranks Armenia 77th (out of 179 countries) on its Press Freedom Index. In Global Press Freedom Rankings Armenia is placed 149th (out of 197 countries) and its press is considered to be 'not free'.
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Map of Armenia


























"The free flow of information is crucial to an active public sphere and, for most people; media – first newspapers, then television, and now the Internet – are the major source of relevant new information (Thorson, 2008). Thus, consumption of news has an important relationship to civil society development. In Armenia, which lacks a developed civil society (Iskandaryan, 2011), any source of awareness and knowledge, including media, are important." - Katy Pearce

2 Armenian Media and Ownership Landscape


The Armenian media landscape is dominated by Broadcast television, and is the main source of news and current information for the majority of the population. Of the multitude of newspapers and forms of print media within the country, almost all are either pro-government or anti-government and sponsored or affiliated by political parties or wealthy individuals. Donations from individuals to print news media often bring about an "ordered article", which is a form of indirect advertising. The low circulation of most Armenian newspapers limits their ability to inform the public. The public has limited trust of most media within the country, with a lack of public knowledge regarding media ownership. Powerful individuals that have influence aren't transparent about their connections with media outlets, and it is often difficult for armenians to truly know who influences information. However, most would agree that the content of media outlets is influenced by ownership and political biases.

The more mainstream source of information for the majority of armenia comes from Television networks. The dominance of metropolitan television over rural networks means that most major media outlets are located in the capital city of Yerevan. Only a small segment of television networks have the ability to broadcast nationwide, making the country side significantly isolated. Of all of the television networks, the government network of H1, as well as a handful of private networks both from Russia and Armenia, recieve the most following. Television content is more entertainment than news, yet 90% of Armenians naming it as their most important source for news material.
As far as press freedom is concerned however, this television dominance poses significant threats, as "the Armenian Government maintains tight control over the state-owned Armenian public television and virtually all private channels, which are owned by business people loyal to the president" (Freedom House, 2006)

This dependance on television may reflect the levels of media access withing the country, as newspapers have limited reach, and internet is available to only a relatively small section of the public. According to the Caucases Research Resource Centre, 96% of households own a television and 90% own a mobile phone, compared to 28% with an internet connection and 34% with a computer. Without easy access to news sources and information free from the influence of the government, most Armenians are aware of the influence that the government and individuals have over media content. Armenian public television channel H1 is a trusted source of infromation for approximately 44% of viewers. Of those people with access to alternative media through the internet, social media and online news media were commonly accessed, but blogs and blogging are uncommon as a source of information.

Overall, the lack of truly independent and unbiased mainstream news media means that Armenians have limited access to free press, with the government having at least some degree of control over both public and private media. Media outlets are also influenced by influential individuals, but the general Armenian population are aware of this influence, and have limited trust for influenced media.

3 Types of Media in Armenia: An Overview


There are four main categories in which Armenian media falls under, these are:
  • The Print Media
  • Radio Stations
  • Television Networks and
  • The Internet

3.1 Television Networks

Television in Armenia is reportedly the most popular form of media with 85-90% of Armenia's population accessing it, making television the most widely used, and most important form of mass media in the country. Prior to the 1980's, all television stations were government owned, and now approximately 53 television stations exist in the country of Armenia, consisting of a mixture of private and public networks.

Despite being the most popular form of media, there is an almost 50% split between the population of the nation when it comes to trusting or partially trusting television as a source of information. Much of this distrust arises from participants thinking that situations presented on television do not represent the reality of Armenian life. Approximately 77% of the population also believe that media owners have significant influence over media content, which is primarily guided by political affiliations.

The following table is based on Melikyan's 2010 research.
Type of Channel
Name/s of Stations
Public
  • National 1 (H1)
Private
  • Ararat
  • Shant
  • Armenia
  • AR
  • Yerkir Media
  • Hayrenik
  • H2
  • Dar21
Russian
  • ORT
  • RTR
  • Kultura
  • Mir
Foreign Broadcast
  • CNN
  • Euronews


images.jpegeuronews-logo.jpgArmenia_TV_company-logo-C4922A3099-seeklogo.com.gifimages-1.jpeg


The 2009 Media Sustainability Index deduced that the most highly rated television programs in Armenia are H1, Shant TV and Armenia TV.


3.2 Print Media

Following Armenia's 1991 Independence from the Soviet Union, there was a boom in the print media industry, following an increase in press tolerance as a result of a change over in power. Although, the Karabakh War of 1992 to 1994 with neighbouring country, Azerbaijan, resulted in the spike of publishing prices which consequently caused the decline of newspapers being distributed. In modern times, the readership of traditional printed newspapers in Armenia has diminished significantly and it is estimated that two-thirds of Armenians do not read newspapers. The majority of newspapers digitising their periodicals, providing their audience an online alternative.

The most popular newspapers in Armenia are:
armenian-media-newspapers.jpg
  • Hayastani Hanrapetutyun (Republic of Armenia) - government's official newspaper
  • Aravot (Morning) presents opposition, however is more 'polite' (Melikyan, 2010) than other opposition party funded newspapers.
  • Haykakan zhamanak (Armenian Times) - opposition party newspaper using directed sarcasm and criticism liberally
  • Chorrord ishghanutyun (Forth authority) - another opposition party newspaper which uses directed sarcasm and criticism liberally
  • Azg (National coverage) - owned by a liberal democratic party

As a result of the low popularity of traditional print media the average daily circulation for most newspapers resides between 1,500 and 3,000 copies.

3.3 The Internet

According to the Caucasus Research Resource Centers 2011 research paper on the Armenian media landscape, the most popular online news websites in Armenia are:

The majority of Armenian newspapers now have a corresponding website in which the news can also be accessed. Along with these news websites the Internet also provides a place for individuals to openly discuss media related issues in a public forum which is not influenced by wealth or politics. The Internet allows for citizens of Armenia to access and produce blog posts, however, it is reported that there are only about 350-400 blog post per day. It is estimated that only 7% of Armenian internet users read blogs, whilst only 2% read and write blogs. The problem that exists with the Internet as a form of media is that not every person can afford computers and Internet connections. Approximately 86% of the population never access the internet and as such internet connection remains mostly in the hands of Yerevan residents who have the income and education to use the internet effectively. The internet in the hands of these people is used mostly for conducting interpersonal relationships and entertainment. It is agreed upon though, that the Internet is a credible source of information.

The proliferation of new technology, in particular mobile phones amongst both the youth and older generation is predicted to be extremely significant in promoting Internet usage by the Armenian population. The rising popularity of sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Live Journal and geolocating information in Armenia (via Google Maps and Open Street Maps) similarly, creates a ripe situation for change and progress for the Armenian media.

3.4 Radio Stations

The main public radio broadcasts in Armenia are:
  • Public Radio of Armenia (107.6 FM): nationally broadcast providing news and information in both Armenian and Russian
  • The Azatutyan (Freedom) (102.0 FM): broadcasts news and analysis three times a day

Private radio stations in Armenia also exist and have since the 1960's as pirate radio stations started appearing but it was not until the 1990's with Hye FM, did non-government, private radio stations begin to be accepted legally. This helped diversify Armenia's media landscape by providing a place for a somewhat less politicised broadcast of media to occur. Nevertheless, in comparison to the huge number of television owners/watchers, the radio in Armenia has a relatively smaller audience, approximately 20% of the population. Coverage of Armenian radio stations is also minimal with many only being available in the Yerevan area. The radio is also listened to mainly as a from of entertainment as opposed to a source of information.

Some popular private radio stations, which focus on broadcasting music in Armenian, Russian and/or English, include:
  • Radio Jazz: (103.8 FM)
  • Radio Avrora: (100.6 FM)
  • Radio Van (103.0 FM)
  • AvtoRadio (89.8 FM)


4 Media Laws in Armenia

Although the Constitutional Court supports the freedom of the press, reality is that the media environment in Armenia remains heavily oppressed since the corrupt presidential election in 2008. Most of the media produced in Armenia are controlled by the government or individuals of higher authority.

4.1 Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct of Media Representatives
1) Accuracy and Impartiality
  • 1.1 Prior to publishing, one must check the accuracy of information from any source, not to conceal and not to distort facts, and not to publish false informations.
2) Integrity in Relations with Sources of Information
  • 2.1 Specify the sources of information
  • 2.2 Avoid using confidential information
  • 2.3 Avoid the use of undercover and secret methods of obtaining information
3) Editorial Independence
  • 3.1 Must distinguish the difference between journalistic materials and advertisement
  • 3.2 Must not give advantages to advertisers and sponsors in editorial coverage
4) Respect for Privacy and Other Human Rights
  • 4.1 Must respect and protect the human right to private life
  • 4.4 When taking interviews or photos of people that have suffered tragedy or sorrow, one much be tactful towards them
5) Respect for Representatives of Different Groups and for Universal Values
  • 5.1 Avoid prejudice against people
  • 5.2 Not to promote ethnic or religious hatred and intolerance
  • 5.3 Not to advocate war violence or pornography
6) Integrity in Relations with the Public
  • 6.1 Support the free exchange of opinions
  • 6.3 To admit mistakes and to be ready to correct them

4.2 Legislations

Some key regulations from "The Law of the Republic of Armenia on Television and Broadcasting" include: -
Article 4, which mention that all individuals of Armenia have the freedom of selection, production, and broadcast of television and radio programs and shall not be subject to censorship.
Article 28 that declare, "The public television is a state of enterprise with a special status." Thus, the state guarantees people to have the right to receive political, economical, educational, cultural and scientific information through the press.

2004 Statute of the Republic of Armenia "On Mass Information"

This statute adopted in December 2003 regulated relations in the field of mass information, provided guarantees for the rights of freedom of speech, accreditation of the press, the right to refutation and reply and established grounds for relief of a mass medium from liability. Most significantly, the statute abolished the institution of preliminary registration of mass media. Under further media laws, censorship was prohibited as Armenia paved a legal path towards press freedom.

Concerns have arisen however of issues of self-censoship which is seen to be common in Armenia. This is particularly apparent in coverage of issues such as corruption, security and the Nagorno- Karabakh situation (conflict over territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan).


2010/2011 Amendments

In May 2010, the Armenian authorities made an amendment to the Constitution by decriminalising libel in order to regulate the relationship between the media and public officials. Prior to this act, libel was considered to be a criminal offence and anyone who defamed individuals or organisations through the media would be investigated by prosecutors and face prison for up to a year.

Since May 2010, libel became a civil rather than a criminal offence and media companies that broke this new law were required to pay for hefty fines of up to two million drams (approx. A$4,500; average monthly salary in Armenia is A$90). However, the attempt to regulate the relationship between the media and publics and achieve true freedom of speech had failed with several officials filing lawsuits against journalists and claiming maximum compensation. As a result, instead of improving the working environment for media associates, several media groups faced financial difficulties, eventually becoming bankrupt
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Karen Andreasian
as they were unable to pay for the required fines. (Muradyan 13/5/10, http://www.cacianalyst.org/?q=node/5327 , accessed 15/8)

In October 2011, executives of eight leading Armenian media groups, led by ombudsman Karen Andreasian made an appeal to the Constitutional Court for a reexamination in the libel media law. By 15 November 2011 of the same year, the court made adjustments to the 2010 media law about libel, stating a decrease in the fines for defamatory. According to the amendments of 2011, the fines for libel convictions were to be determined by reviewing the defendant's financial means.



5 Media for The Armenian Diaspora

Due to centuries of political, economic and religious turmoil from Byzantine rule to the genocide of WW1, a diaspora of Armenian people has developed in over 112 countries (armeniadiaspora.com accessed 14 August 2012). In the US alone 1.4 million people identify themselves as Armenian, one million of those living in Los Angeles. Bordering countries Turkey and Russia have in excess of two million each, while France is home to 450 000 Armenians. Significantly large Armenian communities also exist in Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, Syria, Argentina and Canada. (Handbook for Armenians Abroad; 2010, p1)

Due to this dispersion, media has been an important link in the survival of a cultural and social connection between the Armenian diaspora and with their homeland. As a result of maintaining a strong bond, the Armenian Diaspora have invested hugely to the economic development of Armenia, funding construction, information technologies, tourism and hotels, health care etc. (Handbook for Armenians Abroad; 2010, p2)

The Armenian Media Group of America (AMGA) was originally established in November 1999. Producing daily news and entertainment programs on basic cable systems has resulted in a popular following, particularly in Southern California. Programs are shown in Armenian, Russian and English, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. AMGA is available all over the US, Canada and Mexico through satellite (www.amga.tv/index accessed 15 August, 2012). AMGA’s website also has links to news articles and a live broadcast available for online viewing.

“The preservation of ethnic identity against the permanent and strong influence of the Western culture was and remains the most difficult and complex task for the Armenians in the West.” (Melkonian, http://en.hayernaysor.am/armenian-diaspora-general, accessed 15 August 2012)

Armenian newspapers are produced in the majority of countries of the Armenian Diaspora. Notably, these include the Asbarez and Hairenik published in the US, Kantsasar in Syria, Jamanak in Turkey and Gamk in France. There are many forms of print media available to Armenians abroad, with the majority produced by the Armenian communities themselves.

Online news media provides a wide reach to Armenian’s wishing to access current news and information. Pan-Armenian.net is available in Armenian, English or Russian and has a large world-wide readership.

The Armenian diaspora has a strong presence online, with new media enabling avenues of connection through websites such as Ministry of Diaspora of The Republic of Armenia, Hayern Aysor (Armenians Today) and others, Armenian Family Tree and Armenian Genealogy. These sites enable Armenians to maintain links to their ethnicity, taking advantage of the online media sources and their ability to connect information and people.


6 Reference List


6.1 Media Overview/Types References

Armenia 2007, Factmonster, accessed 10 August 2012, <http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0107292.html>
Armenia 2009, Media Sustainability Index 2009,accessed 10 August 2012,<http://www.irex.org/system/files/EE_MSI_09_cauc_Armenia.pdf>
Armenia country profile 2012, BBC News, accessed 10 August 2012, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1108052.stm#media>
Armenia Online Newspapers 2012, eNewsReference, accessed 15 August 2012, <http://www.enewsreference.com/newspaper/armenia_news.htm>
Armenia Radio Stations 2012, Tunein, accessed 10 August 2012, <http://tunein.com/radio/Armenia-r100295/>
Belinsky, M. 2009, Armenia's New Media Landscape, Wordpress, accessed 16 August 2012, <http://4hours.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/armenias-new-media-landscape/>
Global Press Freedom Rankings 2012, Freedom of the Press 2012, accessed 15 August 2012,<http://www.freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/Global%20and%20Regional%20Press%20Freedom%20Rankings.pdf>
Harutyunyan, S. 2010, Freedom of Media in Armenia, Slideshare, accessed 15 August 2012, <http://www.slideshare.net/blansh/freedom-of-media-in-armenia>
Iskandaryan, A. (2011).Country Report –Armenia. Freedom House: Countries at the Crossroads. A Survey of Democratic Governance, Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 23-40. Retrieved from http://www.freedomhouse.org/images/File/nit/2011/NIT-2011-Armenia.pdf
Marin, L. n.d., 'Karabakh War Bloodbath-Khojaly Massacre', Karabakh War, weblog post, accessed 16 August 2012, <http://karabakh-war.com/>
Melikyan, A. 2010, Media landscape: Armenia, European Journalism Centre, accessed 15 August 2012, <http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/armenia/>
Papyyaat, A. 2010, Media Landscape-Armenia, The Armenian Media Blog, accessed 10 August 2012, <http://www.ditord.net/2010/09/media-landscape-armenia.html>
Pearce, K. Armenian Media Landscape 2011, Caucasus Research Resource Centre, accessed 16 August 2012, <http://www.crrc.am/store/armedia/CRRC_ArMedia%20Survey%20Report_FINAL%20KP_edited.pdf>
Reporters Without Borders 2012, accessed 15 August 2011, <http://en.rsf.org/>
Thorson, E. (2008). Changing patterns of news consumption and participation. Information, Communication & Society, 11(4), 473-489. doi:10.1080/13691180801999027
World Report 2011: Armenia2011, Human Rights Watch, accessed 15 August 2012, <http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2011/armenia>
Yerevan Press Club 2011, Media Landscapes of Eastern Partnership Counries, Yerevan Press Club, accessed 10 August 2012, <http://www.ypc.am/upload/Media%20Landscapes%20of%20EaP%20Countries_eng.pdf>

6.2 Ownership and Media Landscape References

Kurkchiyan, M "The Armenian Media in Context: Soviet Heritage, the Politics of Transition, Democracy, and the Rule of Law" Demokratizatsiya. 2006 accessed 11 August 2012 <https://login.wwwproxy0.library.unsw.edu.au/login?url=http://er.library.unsw.edu.au/er/cgi-bin/eraccess.cgi?url=http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?res_dat=xri%3Apqm&volume=14&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Aarticle&spage=266&issn=1074-6846&url_ver=Z39.88-2004&issue=2&genre=article&req_dat=xri%3Apqm%3Aaccountid%3D12763>
Caucasus Research Resource Centers Armenian Media Landscape October 2011 Accessed 3 August <http://www.crrc.am/store/armedia/CRRC_ArMedia%20Survey%20Report_FINAL%20KP_edited.pdf>

6.3 Media for The Armenian Diaspora References

About Us; Armenian Media Group America created 11 June 2012, accessed 15 August 2012 <http://www.amga.tv/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=85:armenian-media-group-of-america-inc&catid=22:culture&Itemid=285>
Armenians Today Official website for Ministry of Diaspora of The Republic of Armenia, accessed 15 August 2012 <http://www.mindiaspora.am/en/index>
Armenian Family Tree Project, accessed 14 August 2012 <http://www.armenianfamilytree.com/>
Melkonian, Eduard, PhD. Armenian Diaspora: General Information Armenians Today Online Newspaper accessed 15 August 2012 <en.hayernaysor.am/armenian-diaspora-general>
Population Armenian Diaspora accessed 14 August 2012 <http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/population.html>
Handbook for Armenians Abroad, RA Ministry of Diaspora, published by International Labour Organization 2010


6.4 Media Laws in Armenia References

"Armenia Marks Down the Price of Libel" Giorgi Lomsadze 16 November 2011; accessed 3 August 2012 <http://www.eurasianet.org/taxonomy/term/3669>
Armenia Media Landscape2009, European Neighbourhood Journalism Network, accessed 16 August 2012, <http://www.journalismnetwork.eu/index.php/_en/country_profiles/armenia/
"The Law of the Republic of Armenia on Television and Radio Broadcasting" 10 September 2000; accessed 3 August 2012 <http://www.parliament.am/legislation.php?sel=show&ID=1464&lang=eng>
"Armenia Code: Code of Conduct of Media Representatives" 10 March, 2007; accessed 16 August, 2012 <http://www.rjionline.org/armenia-code-code-conduct-media-representatives>
"Freedom House" 2011/2012; accessed 16 August, 2012 <http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/2012/armenia>
"Central Asia-Caucasus Institute- Armenia is Set to Amend its Defamation Legislation" Vahagn Muradyan 13 May 2010; accessed 7 August 2012 <http://www.cacianalyst.org/?q=node/5327>
Golovanov, D. 2004, New Statute on Mass Information, IRIS European Audiovisual Observatory, accessed 16 August 2012, <http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2004/3/article5.en.html>
"Kelly/Warner- Armenia Defamation Laws: International Defamation Law Database" ; accessed 15 August 2012 <http://kellywarnerlaw.com/armenia-defamation-laws/>
"Media Landscape: Armenia" 5 November 2010; accessed 9 August 2012 <http://www.ejc.net/media_landscape/article/armenia/>
Regions and Territories: Nagorno-Karabakh 2012, BBC News, accessed 16 August 2012, <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/3658938.stm>
"World Report 2012: Armenia (Events of 2011)" 2011; accessed 10 August 2012 <http://www.hrw.org/world-report-2012/world-report-2012-armenia>

By Megan Cockle, Leo Hennessy, Vanessa Lee, Michelle Rennex and Raelene Singh