Broadcasters At The Public Multiplex Were Unanimously Concerned

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

According to the court’s request, “First Channel News,” which is part of the public television company, was not on the air for about a month, starting from August 1, 2022. Then it was back on the air again. 

And although the court’s decision was not annulled, according to the joint decision of other television companies broadcasting in the public multiplex and RFA, that broadcaster is on the air again. 

The background is this, “Armenian Second TV Channel”, H2, which was deprived of its license and multiplex slot, having lost the rating points it collected during several competitions to other competitors, appealed to the court, which recognized the results of the competition as invalid, obliged the Armenian Broadcasting Corporation to hold a new competition: and to deprive the winner of the previous competition, “First Channel News,” of the right to broadcast on the ground, until the new competition. 

This legal dispute arose from various contradictions of laws and created a precedent when one court decision can cause serious problems in the media field. 

And the state is not able to guarantee the validity of the competitions according to the rules of the game written by itself (good or bad, that’s another question). 

The “Law on Television Media,” listing the grounds for license termination, does not include a clause by which television stations that have won a tender can be suspended from broadcasting until a new tender is held. 

The question arose as to how much the law protects the rights of television companies and, finally, what the broadcasters themselves can do if they are suddenly forced to stop broadcasting. And if the decision of the administrative court continues to be considered a priority, then not only “First Channel News” but also the other broadcasters who won the previous competition should remain off the air. 

In that case, the public multiplex of Armenia will remain almost naked (moreover, the Russian federal propaganda TV stations are also in our multiplex, but there is no question about suspending their broadcasts). 

As became clear, the broadcasters should first of all unite and try to stand up for their common interest. 

This is perhaps one of the rare cases when the television companies that have received a public multiplex slot, which have different sources of political, technical, and financial support, united and wrote a letter to the CTR. Among them, asking how their financial losses will be compensated in case of air suspension and layoffs. How will tax, credit, and advertising duties be fulfilled? 

The beauty of this letter is the signatures. 

The major and many different television companies with nationwide and capital coverage in the public multiplex have signed: “Armenia TV,” “Yerkir Media,” “Shant,” “A-TV,” “Kentron TV,” “Channel 5,” “Dar 21,” the executive directors of “Nur TV,” “New Armenia” and Public TV Company. 

It turned out that the signatories of the letter asked to return “First Channel News” to the terrestrial air. 

The CRT also concluded that it should be so. That the broadcast will not be suspended until the conclusion of the new competition. RA President Tigran Hakobyan explains this situation with the loopholes and margins of the law. And he says that if there are interpretations of the laws, then they are interpreted in favor of TV companies. 

And such drastic blackouts can be dangerous from the point of view of Armenia’s information security. 

This story is a good opportunity to once again address the factor of foreign TV stations broadcasting free of charge in the public multiplex of Armenia. After all, they occupy such valuable and limited slots, for which Armenian broadcasters fight in courts, with open letters and using their own media resources. 

In any case, the two Russian broadcasters located in the public multiplex of Armenia did not even participate in the competition, are not participating, and will not participate. They are already winners. 

Nune Hakhverdyan 

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