Since September 1 the broadcasts of the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on the Public Radio of Armenia were stopped. Currently the broadcasts of the Radio Liberty Armenian Service will be made only on the frequencies of “ArRadioIntercontinental”, in accordance with an agreement signed with this private radio company and in force till September 16, 2008. The daily two-hour programs of Radio Liberty started to go on air of “ArRadioIntercontinental” since August 15 with a simultaneous transmission on Public Radio – till August 31. The change of the broadcasting company, in opinion of the Director of the Armenian Service of RFE/RL Atom Margarian, will result in a significant reduction of the audience: “ArRadioIntercontinental” holds 23 transmitters, while PRA has 80 of them. Besides, Atom Margarian noted, the listeners complain of clutter on the air.
As it has been reported, the issue of broadcasting the programs of the RFE/RL Armenian Service on the Public Radio came into limelight in June 2007 – in the context of broadcasting amendments, submitted to the consideration of the RA National Assembly. The drafts, developed by the Armenian Government, proposed to prohibit the activities of other broadcasters on the frequencies of the Public TV and Radio company, and a state duty was stipulated, equal to 70,000 AMD (over $ 200) for “each issuance of a program cycle of the national editorial office or a service of a foreign media by the TV and Radio companies of the Republic of Armenia”. These amendments caused an outcry from a number of public, also journalistic, organizations and political parties, who qualified them as an attempt to stop the broadcasts of the Radio Liberty and restrict the freedom of expression. The drafts failed at the parliament through only one vote unscored (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 30 – July 5, 2007 and June 22-29, 2007).
Meanwhile, as it became known in the course of discussion of the drafts above, the term of agreement between PRA and RFE/RL had expired in February 2007, and the negotiations about its prolongation yielded no result.
On July 6 the Council of Public TV and Radio Company resolved to stop airing the programs of local and foreign broadcasters on the Public TV and Radio from August 9. As noted in the explanation of the PTRC Council, the decision was made “considering international experience of the activities of public TV and radio companies” (quoted by “Hayastani Hanrapetutiun” daily, July 26, 2007). This decision affected not only Radio Liberty: in August the broadcasts of “Tsayg” TV company of Gyumri on the 6th VHF that the TV company had been using jointly with “Shirak” public television was stopped. The same is true for the program of “Mir” Interstate TV and Radio Company on the Public Radio of Armenia.