Public TV Council’s “Public Opinion Research Center” will no longer operate starting 2019.
As a result of a joint discussion of the Government and the Council, a decision was made to liquidate the center. Member of the council Stepan Zakaryan told Media.am about this, adding that the decision was taken within the framework of the optimization program.
There is still to government decision to dissolve the center, but the expenditures of this structure are not included in the 2019 budget. In past years the state budget allocated 44 million 326 thousand AMD annually.
In the next year’s state budget, the expenses of the Public council have increased by 1 billion 32 million AMD, which is conditioned by the increase in expenditure of the “Spiritual and Cultural Televisions Services” event. At the same time, the expenditures have decreased by 219 million AMD, which is conditioned by the completion of the renovation of the Public Television and Radio Services buildings.
Stepan Zakaryan says that when the government had raised the issue of optimization, they decided to dissolve the Center for Public Opinion Studies, whose activity is not that effective aside from being expensive. This, according to him, is not the only dissolved company.
“Whatever the center does, we can also outsource and save money. Now there are organizations, which can measure the ratings of television and radio programs as well as conduct other research at cheaper prices,” he said.
According to Stepan Zakaryan, the Public Television and Radio will decide which organizations to outsource to according to their own criteria.
Director of the Public Opinion Research Center, Tamara Gevorgyan, says that there were no discussions with the center regarding dissolving it. After hearing about it from different places, she sent letters to the Prime Minister trying to schedule a meeting in order to discuss the issue, but the meeting has not taken place.
The council of the Public Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation informed her about the dissolving of the center orally.
Tamara Gevorgyan does not agree with the opinion that the center is not effective.
“If they provide for cuts in terms of effectiveness, they should study the activities and research of the center, discuss them and then decide,” she said.
Tamara Gevorgyan tells us that the center has carried out at least 10 research projects a year and has never been ineffective.
“I should have at least been aware of such problems. I would have been very glad if the board carried out a session to discuss these issues,” said the head of the center.
She says that the council does not understand that the center could be a serious tool not only for research but also for public control.
Therefore, according to her, it was necessary to make the results of some of the studies public and to organize discussions about them, which did not happen.
The demand for a debate is prescribed by law. An amendment was made in the spring of 2018 on the Law on Television and Radio to Article 31 (14), according to which the Council shall, at least annually, hold public opinion reviews and publicize the results of the Public Television and Radio Broadcasting Company’s activities.