The Problem of Ethics in Armenia’s TV Sector

It’s not as if ethics is the subject that’s most clearly explained in Armenia’s television sector. But the issue is not that representatives of TV companies don’t know what ethics is but that they don’t know it as a representative of a TV company.

The Kentron TV commentator invited to the Urvagits program Republican Party of Armenia parliamentary faction member Gagik Melikyan and  tortured him with questions having a, in my view, right, but from the point of view of the televised interview, completely wrong tone. And mostly, he’s not even listening to the MP’s responses. It’s another matter that none of the responses are the result of the commentator’s question.

Despite this, the problem is not the Urvagits commentator, but that the TV company he represents belongs to Prosperous Armenia party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukyan, from which it can be assumed that all of BHK’s parliamentary faction are the Urvagits commentator’s pleasant guests; put another way, they are sacrosanct not only for Urvagits, but for the given TV station’s Epicenter news program.

The commentator of H1’s Haracazryuc (“interview”) program, 3.9 years after the events of Mar. 1, 2008, speaking to the Armenian National Congress (HAK) coordinator, asks, “Are you in favor of pre-term elections?” This clarification on the airwaves is an unethical chef d’oeuvre because the H1 employee with his question reminds the opposition representative that for all of 3.9 years he has ignored this position of theirs and is just now trying to understand whether it is the case or not. 

The type of guests on Yerkir Media’s Yerkri Harcy (“the country’s issue”) is a political cross-section, but no one is protected from the whim of the commentator’s questions, though the commentator’s complete unreadiness is clearly evident. The HAK coordinator reminds the Yerkri Harcy commentator that they remember them only during extreme incidents, while the commentator simply throws that in his face — “We are interested in speaking with anyone, when there is something of interest to the public, regardless of whether it’s you or anyone else.”

The commentator might be right, but if he has issues “of interest to the public” other than responding to accusations directed to his TV company, he should not only not get aggressive, but also apologize to the guest — I repeat, even if the commentator is right. Why?

Rudimentary ethics says your guest doesn’t have her TV platform, unlike the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun, or ARF-D) — in this, she’s already right. When a guest provokes, saying that the commentator’s TV station hasn’t quite been an angel toward a rival political party, the commentator gloats, as if you’ve been an angel. 

Ethics dictates that a representative of an opposition that doesn’t have a mouthpiece cannot be invited on air purely to have his errors thrown at his face; second, the opposition cannot make a mistake while the ARF-D representative on Yerkir Media, the BHK member on Kentron TV, Hrant Vardanyan’s clan on AR, the RA General Prosecutor’s team on Yerevan TV and the HHK representative on H1 are infallible. 

If no TV station asks who is the most unassailable political figure in Armenia’s TV sector, what right does it have to attack those who are vulnerable? Where is the journalist’s sense of ethics?

When there’s one unassailable person in the TV sector (that person on all the channels commentators guests from all over the world, presenting to them our country’s official viewpoint on this or that matter, welcoming even foreign TV reporters, but speaks with no Armenian TV reporters), then touching upon the vulnerability of others is unfair and wrong in ethical terms. 

Mher Arshakyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

Add new comment

Comments by Media.am readers become public after moderation. We urge our readers not to leave anonymous comments. It’s always nice to know with whom one is speaking.

We do not publish comments that contain profanities, non-normative lexicon, personal attacks or threats. We do not publish comments that spread hate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *