Statement of the Broadcasting Board of Governors on Closure of Independent Media in Armenia

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) strongly objects to the blackout of independent media in Armenia. Under the state of emergency rules that went into effect on March 2, media were ordered to cite only official sources when covering national news, and the Voice of America‘s (VOA) Armenian-language TV program and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty‘s (RFE/RL) Armenian-language radio programs are no longer being broadcast through local affiliated stations. In addition, Internet access has been curtailed as part of the government efforts to control news and information as the political crisis has deepened since the disputed February 19 elections.

“Censorship and harassment of the media are the antithesis of democracy,” said James K. Glassman, Chairman of the BBG, which oversees all non-military U.S. international broadcasting. “Our broadcasters wish to serve the audience in Armenia by providing reliable news and information at this critical juncture. Unfortunately, that is not an option at the moment, unless you are a patient and resourceful Internet user.”

In the course of the violence over the weekend, a driver for RFE/RL was beaten by police in Yerevan, despite being identified as a representative of the media, and another RFE/RL correspondent in the town of Gumri, covering a similar demonstration, was manhandled and threatened by Interior Ministry troops.

VOA and RFE/RL are among the entities that broadcast in 60 languages under the direction of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, reaching an overseas audience of 155 million people on radio, television and the Internet.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported, non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA); Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa); Radio Free Asia (RFA); and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Mart