Armenia's National Commission on Television and Radio (NCTR) fined Armenia TV 1 million drams ($2,617 USD) for violating the RA Law on Advertising.
According to the Commission, in October and November of this year, the TV station exceeded the 14 minutes of advertising per broadcasting hour permissible by law. Findings of a monitoring conducted by another TV station, which submitted an unofficial complaint to the NCTR, also testify to this.
Armenia TV spokesperson Hermine Hovsepyan insists that the TV station didn't violate the law as broadcasting news about their own or a domestic production is not considered an advertisement.
"If we remove the information about the film Alabalanica from the noted period, then we absolutely have not exceeded the 14 minutes per broadcasting hour," she said.
In her words, the law on advertising doesn't clearly define those ideas or initiatives which cannot be considered advertising, as a result of which the Commission viewed information about the film as advertising.
They didn't intend to advertise the film and direct TV viewers to go and watch it in cinemas, Hovsepyan continued, adding that the broadcast piece didn't contain information about screening times, locations, etc.
"This is purely information about a domestic production, the making of which we've informed viewers through [our] programming," she said.
According to NCTR Chairperson Grigor Amalyan, however, there was no announcement about broadcasting Alabalanica as part of their own programming, since when and how it could be viewed on television wasn't mentioned. Furthermore, the ad on screening the film in Yerevan's Moscow Cinema was also broadcast on those same days.
Olga Safaryan, a lawyer with the Yerevan-based Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, in turn, adds that an administrative fine in the amount of 500 times the minimum salary is applied for a first time offense.
"In this case, the TV company was fined 1 million drams, 1,000 times the minimum [monthly] salary [which in some legal instances is set at 1,000 drams], which means that it was a repeat offense," she concluded.
If a TV station is fined three times in one year, it is deprived of its broadcasting license, she added.