New Radio Stations With Wider Coverage

Gayane Asryan


After July 20, 2017, radio broadcasters participating in the competition to get a license must offer a thematic focus defined by law. This news was conveyed during the presentation of a new legislative initiative at the National Assembly on May 30.

As a result of the licensing, the plan is to create one entertainment, one music, one youth, and 10 commercial radio stations with general focus. To continue their operations, mainly current radio stations will participate in the competition. The competition is open also to other companies wishing to work in the sector.

The rapporteur was National Commission on Television and Radio (NCTR) Chairperson Gagik Buniatyan. He said that the legislative initiative is conditioned by the need to change the timeline for the switchover to digital radio broadcasting in Armenia.

According to the current law, digital television broadcasting was launched in 2010, while the deadline for radio broadcasting is set for July 20, 2017.

Head of NCTR’s legal and licensing department Davit Margaryan expects the new competition will provide an opportunity for new radio companies and in the case of current companies, to broaden their coverage.

“Current radio companies can easily satisfy the thematic requirement, since the current radio channels have all the thematic focuses of the list: entertainment, youth, music, and general. On the other hand, the competition is an opportunity to have new radio companies,” says Margaryan, adding that alongside expanding the coverage area, quality must also be improved.

The digitization of radio broadcasting, according to Margaryan, is expected, though it has been postponed a few times due to technical issues. But now it has urgently been included on the parliamentary agenda.

The department head notes that there’s an issue with broadcasting new frequencies in border villages, since coverage of Azerbaijani and Turkish radio channels reaches those regions. “Our citizens must be able to receive information from Armenian radio companies.”

Radio Van founding director Shushanik Arevshatyan offers her option for the fight against Turkish and Azerbaijani frequencies. She proposes radio companies cover the broadcast area of two regional frequencies with their own resources as a condition of receiving a license.

“With our own programs, without the expectation of additional support, we are ready for regional broadcasting on the condition that the same radio station’s regional frequencies are exempt from state taxes. The state solves the issue of Turkish-Azerbaijani radio broadcasting, and I expand my audience,” says Arevshatyan, adding that this is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

As for the radio digitalization process, Arevshatyan believes the logic of transitioning to digital, the choice of format, and the adoption of focuses are not clear for the state. “They’re squeezing us from every direction, they’re not allowing us to move forward independently. Say, I have a music radio station, why do I have to broadcast political ads?”

Amendments are expected also in the Law on Income Tax. The annual broadcasting taxes in Yerevan and the regions will be raised: 500 thousand AMD in the case of national coverage (instead of the current 150 thousand AMD); 200 thousand in Yerevan (instead of the current 100 thousand); in the case of coverage of one marz (province), 50 thousand AMD (instead of the current 25 thousand AMD).

During the discussion of the law at the National Assembly, ELQ parliamentary faction MP Mane Tandilyan expressed concern that raising the income tax creates barriers in the industry. She proposed making exceptions for regional broadcasting. The government accepted the proposal

Gayane Asryan

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 *