YPC Weekly Newsletter

2004


MEDIA RESPONSE TO SUPERSYSTEM

During the opening of “CS Media City” holding on September 4, 2004 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 3-9, 2004), the Armenian President Robert Kocharian by pushing a button launched a system capable of transmitting 50 TV channels in gigaherz frequency spectrum. Over some time already this system (referred to as “supersystem”) and its owner, the previously unknown “A UP” company, have been advertised on “Armenia” TV channel. The launch give a rise to a torrent of publications in Armenian press that, apparently, is going to be continued, and that questions the arguments usually quoted as motivation for depriving “A1+” TV company of air.

On September 9 “Aravot” daily published an article by observer Anna Israelian “There Goes the Supersystem!”, which quotes the Head of Licensing and Methodology Department of National Commission on Television and Radio Ishkhan Vardanian: "Presently NCTR has no vacant GHz frequency. We did not provide frequency in this spectrum to any company. “A UP” company, whose commercial can frequently be seen on air, is unknown to us, it has no license. (…) The Commission has already warned the appropriate bodies of the need to take steps to stop the illegal broadcasting.” The question of why then in this spectrum AATV company is broadcasting nowadays was answered by Mr. Vardanian to the effect that AATV has had a ten-year license since 1997, of which it was deprived during the re-licensing of 2001, since the license was granted not for broadcasting but for other services. “However, the investments are protected by the law and if due to a law amendment economic process is obstructed, the investor has a right to continue the activities for five years. In any case, today, these frequencies are subject to licensing by competition. I find it hard, however, to predict, when the competition will be held", Ishkhan Vardanian added. It should be noted that the list of TV and radio frequencies, received by Yerevan Press Club after an inquiry filed with NCTR, the 2501-2700 MHz spectrum in question is listed as subject to listening by competition.

The Chairman of “Investigative Journalists” NGO Edik Baghdasarian highlighted some questionable points in the activities of “Armenia” TV channel and the newly-established “CS Media City” in his article “Having Seen a Button, Do Not Press It”, published in “Aravot” daily on September 16.

The piece of Ara Meliksetian “Framing in Public” (“Golos Armenii” newspaper, September 18) says in particular: “Apparently, the unpleasant story of “Armenia” TV channel could have gone without a scandal, but for the particularly sensitive attention of the colleagues to the fate of another Armenian broadcaster, “A1+” TV company. Hardly any journalist would have questioned the legitimacy of the diligently advertised television novelty, presented by “Armenia”, had there been no reasonable question: how come there is a frequency for a new re-broadcasting project, while none can be found for “A1+” TV company? The search for an answer to this very natural question resulted in a quite incidental disclosure of one of the biggest frauds of our reality. And it is big only because the head of the state was unwillingly involved in it.” “Apparently, Robert Kocharian himself did not have suspicions on the legitimacy of the occurrence”, Ara Meliksetian thinks. “He was, roughly speaking, simply framed. He was, as the saying goes, played a dirty trick on.” In the opinion of the author of the article, the President was framed by “various state agencies” and the “many-faced people surrounding him”, “but the worst thing that the response of the head of the state is still unknown to the public at large”.

Armen Hakobian in article “The Secret Supersystem of ‘Armenia’“ (“Hayots Ashkhar” daily of September 10) named the situation in place “a scandal in the noble family”. “It has become known from trustworthy sources that the head of ‘Armenia’ Bagrat Sargsian was yesterday summoned to the administration of the President, where he was demanded explanations on what happened”, the author writes. Besides, he notes that the broadcasting without a license, along with unconscientious advertising are criminal offences by Armenian legislation.

Yet, the advertising of the supersystem on “Armenia” TV has already been stopped, but the situation still needs a consistent explanation by all the persons and state institutions involved.