A Lawsuit Over A Slot Contest

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

“Armenian Second TV Channel” had filed lawsuits against the RA Television and Radio Commission.

According to the results of the competition concluded on January 15, 2021, that channel did not get the opportunity to be included in the public multiplex and to continue the terrestrial broadcasting throughout the country.

“Armenian Second Television Channel” LLC demands in one lawsuit that the state broadcasting competition for licensing the use of slots in the Public Multiplex to be declared invalid, and consequently also its deprivation of airtime.

In the second lawsuit, it demands to be recognized as the winner of that competition and to be granted a broadcasting license.

The court satisfied both lawsuits, demanding that the decisions of the TRC be annulled and obliging the TRC to recognize “H2” as the winner of that tender.

The substantiation is that the number of slots of the previously announced competition has changed. Previously, there were 6 state slots, but as a result of the interstate agreement, they became 5, which was the reason for the noticeable competition of the candidate channels.

Under the interstate agreement (which is a higher-level document than the decision of the TRC), one state and two capital slots were provided to Russian channels, without any competition and free of charge. And it really affected the logic of the whole competition. Moreover, it formed a dependence on the broadcasting policy of a foreign state.

But the problem is that the interstate agreement cannot be reversed and the original number of slots be restored. And one way or another, there will always be a TV company that will be left out of the competition.

Now the RA Administrative Court has concluded that a new state contest for licensing the use of slots in the Public Multiplex should be held and “H2” should be recognized as a winner in a new tender.

The TRC appealed against that decision in the Court of Appeal.

We can assume that this court cycle will last for a long time (even years), as the appeals and counter-claims will not end quickly. It is also possible that the case will reach the Court of Cassation.

The deprivation of “H2” airtime acquires a political nuance, and the judicial system emphasizes this, understanding well that interstate agreements have no retroactive force, but can become an occasion to speak of unfair competition.

Nune Hakhverdyan

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