Armenia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Armenia

Armenia

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

64

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

26

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

18

Despite constitutional guarantees for freedom of speech and the press, these rights are limited in practice. Journalists practice self-censorship, particularly in reporting on issues of national security and government corruption. In December 2003, a draft media law was adopted that requires media outlets to reveal their sources in closed hearings if the subjects of their reports are determined to relate to national security. The authorities frequently use criminal defamation and insult laws against journalists critical of the government, and a new criminal code adopted in April did not repeal articles criminalizing defamation. In a positive step, parliament passed a new Freedom of Information Law in September that requires various state agencies and some private organizations to release requested information to the public in a timely manner. The leading independent television station, A1+, which lost its license in a controversial 2002 broadcasting frequency tender, had subsequent efforts to renew its license in 2003 rejected by a regulatory body whose members were appointed by President Robert Kocharian. The decision was widely believed to be politically motivated, as A1+ frequently aired coverage critical of the government. Several independent journalists faced harassment and physical assaults during the run-up to the 2003 national elections and while investigating corruption by state officials. The state-owned television channel is heavily influenced by the government, while the leading private television stations are also largely pro-Kocharian. Armenia's private newspapers offer more diverse opinions than the broadcast media. However, the country's difficult economic climate, combined with low circulation levels, leaves them financially dependent on business or political interest groups who exercise de facto editorial control over content.