Refuting the Refutation: a Lawsuit against Public TV

Gayane Asryan


Orsis Arms, an arms sales company, has filed a lawsuit against Public TV.

News reporter Gevorg Tosunyan has produced a story featuring an ex-commander of the Armed Forces Special Unit who claimed (with a disguised appearance and voice) that the Ministry of Defense had sold hunting weapons to Orsis company.

In the video piece, the reporter talks to Alexander Sirunyan, the company lawyer, who refutes the information, stating that the ammunition has been tested before the purchase.

The lawsuit is not against the reporter or the news service but the TV company.

Lawyer Sirunyan explained to Media.am that the lawsuit had been filed against the TV company because, according to the law, the employer should compensate for damages caused by an employee.

The company demands a refutation, which has been actually presented in the story. However, the lawyer claims that the TV company has contributed to spreading false information by broadcasting that story.

“Intentionally or not, the reporter has used information provided by an apparently fake and suspicious source. They covered such a serious and important topic without decent expertise, referring to only one source that had a disguised appearance and voice,” Sirunyan says.

The lawyer insists that the media should have double-checked the information before disseminating it.

Orsis blames the TV company for damaging their reputation by disseminating false information. Moreover, the lawyer says that the TV company bears the burden of proving the inaccuracy of the information in the court.

Later, there were other publications as well, featuring the Ministry of Defense that expressed doubts about the deal.

Russian TASS agency has published the statement of Promtechnology company (Orsis is their representative in Armenia), claiming that “the Public TV creates an impression that somebody’s trying to “cast a shadow” over the relations between Russia and Armenia.”

This publication also presents MD press secretary Artsrun Hovhannisyan’s comment on the filed lawsuit. He claims they have not received any documents from the Russian party related to Orsis company. Hovhannisyan refrained from any official assessment of the situation.

Reporter Gevorg Tosunyan thinks that the company is worried because of the professional analysis of the interviewee. “He thoroughly presented the disadvantages of that ammunition, according to his testing results. That person is not just an ordinary serviceman but somebody that has personally tested the ammunition.”

The reporter says that the editorial office does not see any problems related to his story.

“Definitely, I have discussed the topic with the editor. Actually, I don’t understand the purpose of the lawsuit. In my story, the representative of Orsis Arms refutes the claim of my other interviewee,” Tosunyan says.

Media lawyer Davit Asatryan says that the plaintiff can file a lawsuit only against a media company because a reporter cannot refute the already-disseminated information without the employer’s permission.

Asatryan says that the plaintiff must prove in the court that the disseminated information is not true.

“According to the media legislation, a plaintiff should first present a refutation demand to the media company. If the company does not satisfy the demand, the plaintiff is entitled to apply to the court,” Asatryan says.

According to Asatryan, if a reporter has not expressed his own opinion and has presented both parties, it means he has done his work faithfully.

Interestingly, the Orsis representative talks about fake, inaccurate information without asking the TV company to reveal the source. Orsis demands that the TV company should present a refutation, admitting they have spread false info. However, the TV company has actually refuted that information in the video piece.

                                                                                                                                                       Gayane Asryan


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