Not Being Samvel Aleksanyan is Laughable

Our news services are simply laughing at their advertisers. How? Very simply. They simply prepare a report on Natali Pharm Malatya Medical Center.

About a month ago, Republican Party of Armenia parliamentary faction member Samvel Aleksanyan approached me and a correspondent with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun) in the parliament building and said I want you to show my hospital (he was referring to the aforementioned medical center) on television.

I said that the TV company where I work has an advertising division; I can give you the number (Azatutyun refused to discuss the proposal at all). He says, no, bro, I want you to develop something and show it; however much money you need, I’ll give it; however many ailments you have, I will treat them. 

I continued to push our advertising division. He didn’t agree. I informed him that other TV companies have a greater audience, according to audience rating measurement companies — let him approach them. He insisted that he wants a news report on A1+ and Azatutyun. I didn’t agree to it.

And actually, the man one month later got what he wanted. On Nov. 12, nearly all the TV companies were speaking from the same mouth — they were reporting the discussion on the aforementioned center overcoming pregnancy and childbirth problems. 

ArmNews covered the center [AM] two days in a row. One of the reports was about structural heart diseases and arrhythmia in pregnant women; the second, the center’s mobile clinic “tours”. The first was about what Natali Farm Medical Center can do on site; the second, what it can do in the regions.

In the second report, the cynicism comes on strong. The first sentence is: with the support of National Assembly deputy Samvel Aleksanyan. There were sentences such as the following: “the residents were very happy ” (the journalist’s words) and “we’re very grateful to Samvel Aleksanyan” (one of the female patients’ words).

On Nov. 12, Kentron TV, in some sense, moves from “anti-ethics” to cynicism. On the program Epikentron (“Epicenter”, and let’s not forget who the TV station belongs to — Gagik Tsarukyan), the virtues of Natali Pharm Medical Center are aired, and immediately after the evening news, now as an advertisement, in the beginning of the program Antsum Dulyani Het (“Crossing or Passage with Dulyan”), Kentron TV airs an ad for Mikaelyan Hospital’s eldercare and mental health center. 

This is cynicism because in one case an oligarch’s hospital featured in another oligarch’s TV company has become the subject of a reportage; in another instance, a hospital not belonging to an oligarch has paid money and placed an ad.

Armenia TV’s news program Zhamy (“The Hour”) likewise didn’t bypass Samvel Aleksanyan’s Natali Pharm. And again on the same occasion.

That is, none of the TV companies attempted to be the only one. All covered the center, it seems, on the command of one center.

By the way, all of the mentioned TV companies have programs on medical topics. ArmNews has Buzhaky, Kentron has Aprir Aroghch (“Live Healthy”). And though Armenia TV doesn’t have a health program, it has Bari Luys, Hayer (“Good Morning, Armenians”), during which it often covers health issues. Armenia TV also has Barev Pokrik (“Hello, Small One”), during which, as the TV station itself says, “discussed are topics beginning from the first period of pregnancy till the child reaches school age.” And the Natali Pharm report, if you remember, is about pregnancy. 

The fact is that preparing reports in news programs about Natali Pharm under the pretense of arrhythmia issues during pregnancy is not that terrible. What’s terrible is laughing at the other advertisers.

Why can’t they just be tucked into the news programs? Why make them understand that not being Samvel Aleksanyan is laughable?

Mher Arshakyan

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

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