YPC Weekly Newsletter

2001


BROADCASTING OF ASHTARAK TV STOPPED

On September 12 Ashtarak TV cable company, in operation since June, 1987, Aragatsotn region, Armenia, stopped broadcasting. As Yerevan Press Club was informed by the head of the company Vahram Botsinian, this day the TV station was visited by representatives of Republican Telecommunication Center and the RA Ministry of National Security, who sealed the equipment. The reason of the incident is the fact that Ashtarak TV has no license for broadcasting.

The background of the situation is the following. On the evening of September 10, representatives of tax inspection paid an unexpected visit to the editorial office. Having discovered the absence of license, inspectors announced that it is necessary to stop the activities of the company (notably, the mandate of tax inspectors does not include a check of this kind). According to Botsinian, this unexpected visit was linked to the TV appearance of Ashot Manucharian, a leader of “Socialist Armenia” Union and National Consensus Front, which are opposed to the authorities. The appearance was scheduled for that very evening. On the 22nd minute of program, when Manucharian was answering the questions of TV viewers live on air, the program was stopped, as the power supply was interrupted. The representatives of law-and-order bodies asked the employees to leave the office and surrounded the building. The next day, on September 11, Ashtarak TV did go on air, but for a short time.

When asked why the company had not received a license up till now, Vahram Botsinian said that he had repeatedly, starting from early 1990s, addressed appropriate bodies to get such permission and was always refused for different reasons. "By giving our airtime to Manucharian, we simply pulled the trigger”, said Botsinian. The true reason for the shutdown of the station, according to Botsinian, is the situation that exists in Ashtarak with regard to the coming in late October Elections for a vacant seat in the National Assembly.