The Time For Public Broadcast

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

The expectations and disappointment of Public Television have never been few.

Public TV has become a topic of debate on a regular basis. But those discussions are more similar to flares than consistent questions.

An open letter from an adviser to the President of the Television and Radio Council ( at this point, former), followed by an answer became an opportunity for such an outbreak.

As a result, many of the questions were given in the form of texts that many kept to themselves, but there was no opportunity to see them published. Social networks have publicized the new expectations from the public broadcaster in a new, post-revolutionary period.

The main topic of the changes and their cost (material) and value (to cleanse the society of signals).

Chairman of the TV and Radio Council Ara Shirinyan, who has become president in Armenia’s most transparent election system, is convinced that the changes cannot take place quickly.

Responding to the statement of his former parliamentarian Tigran Paskevichyan that “to take drastic and radical steps to change the situation,” Ara Shirinyan said that he is against the logic of assault and revenge and “is sure to choose a long but correct way.” 

No one is disputing that the changes should be in the concept of the public broadcaster and in philosophy because Public Television has been a closed structure for many years. And it did it with those people, style, and investment with which it should be considered the leaders of Public at the time. 

Ara Shirinyan said in a conversation with media.am that the problems are systematic and not necessarily conditioned by one person, and it should be remembered that the Public Television and Radio Council is a controlling body, and the decision-maker is the directorate of the TV company.

He is convinced that Public should show solidarity and not fight. And in order to achieve that, you have to trust the professionals. According to him, the most serious professional potential is in Public.

He asked not to confuse the objective criteria with public satisfaction, as the public is made up of various communities that want to be reflected and referenced. Therefore, it is difficult to build a universal, publicly accessible Public Television.

It is natural that what has been inherited by Public should be evaluated. It is a complex heritage and a complex assessment. After all, there are not only dark and secret working schemes but also inherited criminal cases.

Tigran Paskevichyan insists that the assessment (pricing of programs, review of staff lists, financial expediency, etc.) should be done immediately. In order to be able to determine what is overestimated and what is underestimated. Also suitable or usable for future use.

He told Media.am that any issue in Public Television ultimately leads to resource assessment. Moreover, the potential is in both money, people and ideas.

People, money, ideas

People, money and ideas have the ability to transform. Often we have seen how good things, good people and large amounts of money can transform into another heavy heritage, if their possession was not sufficiently transparent, open and retransmitted.

The need to assess potential has always been and is now.

Finally, any heritage is estimated to be effective in using it. Otherwise, the inheritance becomes a burden. You close it and not tell anyone what you have.

The public broadcaster is linked to complex communications with the public, the public and private producers. One can say that capitalism is trying to mitigate its influence through the media of public significance.

Public should have at least one promising and clear, rule-based platform which will respond to the massive rating report, the interests of private equity and the possible intervention of the state.

Of course, any media outlet has that role, but only if it is publicly formulated. You simply need to interpret that formulation in the context of modern times. 

Now it is important to understand both Public’s content policy and the principles of governance, in order to avoid further corruption risks. Through open competition and public discussion, the risks are reduced (at least a little), and vice versa, increases if changes are made individually (or secretly).

For example, Ruben Jaghinyan, a former President of the CPA, was convinced that “sharp, shocking steps in the field of television are ineffective, even dangerous,” and there is a need to be tactful.

The more we did, the less we succeeded.

In today’s situation, it is difficult to say that the secret is in being tactful, rather the transition and effectiveness are, first of all, openly announced. 

And if there are plans for the next season (and there are, for example, soap operas), you need to announce them. See the pricing and prospects of the new product. Purely out of curiosity.

Now there is only one open competition, which has summed up the fresh projects received from the public. The president of the Central Committee of the Council of Europe (CPA) places great importance on the open platform and the new ideas announced a month ago.

Ara Shirinyan is convinced that it also shows what society is expecting from Public. And it allows Public TV to prepare and organize new programs for broadcasting.

He is convinced that you need to change only when you’ve definitely found something better. Be it manager, program or reporter.

The tradition of being locked in decisions was just the trap that did not allow various layers of society to influence the broadcasting policy. Any program was presented as a fact, even as a gift for consumers.

In the summer of 2018, Ara Shirinyan was able to formulate the challenges facing the press. “The press continues to mechanically reproduce the past, the communication between those in power and the public, the memory, knowledge and emotional background. The danger is that such media will eventually force the new authorities to repeat the mistakes of the past, to shut down, to abandon the new-born traditions of transparent governance. “

The public’s focus is on Public, as it is the only TV channel from which, spiritually and legally, reforms are expected.

It will definitely be worse if we stop expecting and demanding.

Nune Hakhverdyan

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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