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LEGISLATION CURBING PRIVATE MEDIA FAILS TO PASS

Legislation that would have restricted broadcasts of foreign media failed to pass the Armenian parliament on 2 July 2007. The bill would have banned foreign broadcasts on Armenian public television and radio and heavily taxed their retransmission on private stations. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a private service funded by the United States Congress, would have been particularly affected.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said the proposals amounted to a ban on RFE/RL and could have made Armenia's March 2008 presidential elections less free and fair. Human Rights Watch had called the legislative package a potential blow to media freedom in general.

Opposition, independent, and even some pro-government lawmakers boycotted two separate votes and thus prevented quorum, said RFE/RL. The failure means the government must start the whole process again if it wants to pass the legislation. The bill would have required private Armenian radio stations to pay more than $200 in taxes each time they retransmitted a program produced by foreign media. That is about 70 times more than broadcasters must pay for a locally made program.

Visit these links:
- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: http://tinyurl.com/29ztkc
- Human Rights Watch: http://tinyurl.com/23zf9b
(10 July 2007)

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