Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty officials are worried about draft legislation that would ban rebroadcast of foreign radio programs on public airwaves in Armenia.
President Jeffrey Gedmin recently criticized legislation in that country’s parliament that would ban the rebroadcast of RFE/RL Armenian Service programming.
He said the proposal is clearly targeted at RFE/RL’s Armenian language broadcasts. “It would set a dangerous precedent for public media in all of the countries of the former Soviet Union, where people have listened for decades to RFE and RL broadcasts in order to get news otherwise unavailable from local, state-run media.”
The bill also would impose a tax of more than $200 per program per day for every time a private station rebroadcast a foreign-produced program, officials complained. “This tax represents a 70-fold increase over the fees broadcasters must pay to retransmit a locally-produced program.”
The proposal is backed by Armenia’s ruling coalition, RFE/RL said. Armenia is in southwestern Asia, east of Turkey.