On October 15 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty issued a press release on the
withdrawal “Azatutiun” (“Liberty”) program produced by the RFE/RL Armenian Service
from the air schedule of “Kentron” TV company. According to the Director of
the Radio Liberty Armenian Service Hrair Tamrazian, the first issue of this
30-minute analytical program was aired on October 10 and repeated on October
11. On October 13 the Director of “Kentron” Petros Ghazarian informed Mr. Tamrazian,
that the airing of the subsequent issues of the program would be “indefinitely
suspended”. As it is noted in the press release the management of the TV company
did not explain the reasons for such a decision.
The first issue of “Azatutiun” featured a report from Strasbourg on the debates
at October session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on
the honoring of commitments to the CE by Armenia and exclusive interviews of
the RA Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian and the newly appointed US Ambassador
in Armenia John Evans on relations between Armenia and Turkey.
Mr. Tamrazian expressed his concern over the suspension of “a very successful
TV show” “for unknown reasons” and called on Armenian authorities to investigate
into the matter. “I hope that “Kentron” and RFE/RL will continue in a joint
project that was eagerly awaited by many viewers and listeners in Armenia”,
the head of the Radio Liberty Armenian Service stressed.
On his behalf, the Director of “Kentron” Petros Ghazarian told YPC that he
“sees no conflict in what has happened, the TV company and the Radio Liberty
Armenian Service remain partners”, however, there are certain financial problems
that call for a solution.
On October 19 the President of RFE/RL Thomas Dine addressed a letter to the
President of Armenia Robert Kocharian, in which he urged the head of the state
“to denounce this contemptible Soviet-style act, and to help return “Azatutiun”
on air”. Thomas Dine asserted that he is “determined to get “Azatutiun” back
on air and will make every effort to make it happen – including raising the
issue with the Bush Administration, the US Congress, the Council of Europe and
non-governmental organizations worldwide”.
The Radio Liberty press release with this letter also states that despite the
lack of explanations on behalf of the “Kentron” administration, there are all
reasons to suppose that the TV company “was pressured to suspend further broadcasts
of the program, either by official interests or local media competitors”.
It should be noted that this was not the first attempt of the Radio Liberty
Armenian Service to go on air in Armenian capital. On September 28, 2004 a program
prepared by the radio company was aired by “Shant” TV company.