Foreign State Channels Will Be In The Public Multiplex Again

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

In January 2021, it will be known which TV channels will be broadcast in the public multiplex for the next seven years.

The Law on Audiovisual Media, adopted in the summer of 2020, established new rules for licensing and free broadcasting on the public multiplex.

According to these rules, foreign broadcasters can not participate in the public multiplex slot competition, as it contradicts the information security of Armenia. And it does not matter what language they are broadcast in.

This was claimed by the Commission on Television and Radio (CTR), the chairman of which Tigran Hakobyan said, “I declare with full responsibility that there is no other country in the world where there are foreign TV channels with public and political orientation in the public multiplex.”

And since free airtime (slots) are limited, handing them over to foreign countries means ignoring the interests of local broadcasters, as well as the public interest, by subordinating the importance of programs in the state language of the Republic of Armenia and the agenda of one’s own state.

Foreign state channels can find a place in the RA public multiplex only in one case. if it is decided by a higher state instance by concluding interstate, intergovernmental or international agreements with another state.

And now a new agreement is being prepared between Armenia and Russia, according to which three Russian channels will be included in the public multiplex: ВГТРК, “Культура,” and “1-й канал.”

Thus, 3 out of 12 slots (6 national and 9 capital) will be provided to foreign TV channels without competition.

The RA Ministry of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies, the RF Ministry of Digital Development, Communication and Mass Communication have already prepared an agreement.

The agreement on cooperation in the field of mass communication will leave the broadcasting capacity of Russian channels unchanged. The measure that the Armenian government tried to change, but could not (or did not want to) do.

In any case, at the beginning of the fall of 2020, it was known that Armenia would include only the Russian ВГТРК channel in its public multiplex from 2021, and the American CNN and Russian “1-й канал” should not have been on that list as they were in previous years.

However, in fact, it turned out that the situation changed very quickly, a new contract will be signed a month before the end of the slot competition. And we will continue to broadcast Russian channels for free for seven years.

Which, of course, will affect the competition of Armenian TV companies, as TV companies that have applied for competitive slots will have less chance to broadcast in the RA public multiplex.

Naturally, it will also affect the general media field.

Nune Hakhverdyan

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