Local media is going down a difficult path towards cable broadcasting.
Liana Dokhikyan, head of the Television and Radio Commission’s Licensing Division, says there are different arrangements for cable companies and those that do not have a broadcasting license yet.
In order to access the cable network, the current television company first contracts with the cable company. The cable company then applies to the commission for a license to relay the content of the given channel.
Companies that create a video product but do not yet have a license should first apply to the commission and get permission to broadcast their own content. Then, enter into a contract with the cable network and rebroadcast.
“As a result, the company has to submit the same documents to the commission twice, which is unnecessary paperwork. We need to make it possible for one document package to go through these two processes at once,” said the head of the licensing department.
The broadcasting license is issued for ten years. Local content creators pay a state fee for the license.
If the TV company broadcasts in one region the license fee is 100 thousand AMD, in more than one region – 250 thousand AMD, in Yerevan – 400 thousand AMD, in Yerevan and in the regions – 500 thousand AMD.
The issue of cable broadcasting was also discussed at the 5th Armenian Internet Governance Conference held in Yerevan recently. During the video discussion. Participants were unanimous that there is a need to regulate the field of Internet content in Armenia.
Internet broadcasting in Armenia is regulated by laws written 10-15 years ago, which according to Armen Hunanyan, a representative of the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC), creates an unequal environment for local and foreign content creators.
Foreign companies, in fact, manage to appear on cable in a shorter way, by applying only for re-transmission. In fact, those channels reach the local audience, but the content creator does not pay a state fee for broadcasting under local law.
Chairman of the Television and Radio Commission Tigran Hakobyan says the requirement for Armenian companies to have a cable license should be abolished.
“I think in five years there will be no need for a cable license anymore, and content creators can distribute their work through different channels,” said Hakobyan.
According to him, the problem is not licensing, but bringing the regulator and operator into one common and equal field.
Armen Muradyan, director of Arpinet Cable Company, says local producers are making conscientious payments, and offshore companies are being rebroadcast quietly without paying.
Adding to Muradyan’s thoughts, Hakobyan says that for the Armenian market, very often they provide audio-visual services from abroad, which not only seek revenue but also carry out propaganda in Armenia.
“We have to carry out foreign propaganda in order to grow our business. Public channels must make their content accessible to us,” Muradyan added.
Overall, we have 70 cable companies in Armenia.