The Armenian government today gave the green light [AM] to two legislative packages: Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Television and Radio Broadcasting, and the Law on Amendments to the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Advertising, according to which only social ads can be broadcast on public television.
“Advertisements are prohibited from being broadcast on Public Television, with the exception of social advertisements, as well as in cases noting the appropriate information on sponsors of Article 14 Section 6 of the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Television and Radio Broadcasting during broadcast of cultural and sports television programs, but not more than one sponsor per each cultural or sports television program broadcast. Mention of the sponsors of the social ad broadcast on Public Television, as well as during the broadcast of cultural or sports television programs in one broadcast hour should not exceed 90 seconds. The tenets of this article do not apply to public television satellite broadcasts, as well as the rebroadcasts on public television of reputable international cultural and/or sporting events, within the framework of which advertisements must be displayed on the organizers’ request,” reads the bill.
The purpose of the draft laws is to “increase the role and place of Public Television, and its reputation in public life, by banning commercial advertising on public television. Commercial advertising steals airtime from the viewer and the television [company], which can be used for broadcasts of higher informational value. Considering the special mission of public television in public life, commercial advertising doesn’t serve those purposes for which public television was created, financed from state budget funds, and operates.”
The expected outcome of the bill is shortening the duration of commercial advertisements on public television, thereby providing airtime to broadcasting television programs of greater value and importance.
Media expert Mesrop Harutyunyan welcomes the principle of Armenia’s public television without ads. “It’s accepted in many countries that public television broadcasters don’t have any ads because, after all, a TV company where people can watch programs at ease, without commercial breaks that irritate them, has to be provided for the public,” he says.
According to the media expert, the Public TV Company of Armenia cannot operate in the market as other, private TV companies.
“Public TV cannot go after [audience measurement] ratings, get into the competitive field. Its mission is defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, where it says that the Public Television’s purpose is to ensure the diversity of informational, educational, cultural, and entertainment programs; consequently, in order to meet those objectives, I think the funds allocated from the budget may also be sufficient,” he says.
The Law on Amendments and Additions to the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Television and Radio Broadcasting, and the Law on Amendments to the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Advertising will be presented at the National Assembly.
Updated Jan. 7, 2014: The first sentence of the second paragraph of this article was updated to better clarify the meaning of the draft law.