On September 14 the operations of “Noyan Tapan” TV channel which rebroadcasted the Russian TV 6 channel and aired its own programs, namely the newscast and the interactive “5th Microphone” program, stopped.
“Noyan Tapan” TV channel was a product of a joint project between “Noyan Tapan Alik” TV company and “Ararat Service” Ltd./“Lotos” TV company. According to the agreement signed on November 1, 1999, and envisioned to remain in force for three years, “Lotos” TV company (which has a broadcast license and is the representing partner of “TV 6 Moscow” TV company in Armenia) entitled the opposite party, in particular, to use its UHF and rebroadcast the programs of the Russian TV channel. “Noyan Tapan Alik” TV company, on its part, provided the television equipment, studio, human and information resources, etc.
As YPC was told by the General Director of “Noyan Tapan” Ltd. Tigran Haroutiunian, “there even existed a verbal agreement between our company and ‘Lotos’ on the possibility of future acquisition of the channel by us in future”. “During two years we were in normal cooperation and expected that we would soon be able to sign an appropriate agreement. Nothing forewarned such a change in the circumstances”, Haroutiunian said. “Unexpectedly, in late August the General Director of ‘Lotos’ Pavel Avagian announced that the cooperation will be continued only if the self-produced programs of “Noyan Tapan” are removed from the air. Naturally, we declined the offer.”
According to the cooperation agreement above, in case of its annulment through the wish of one party, six months’ prior notice should be given. Meanwhile, Pavel Avagian’s letter addressed to Tigran Haroutiunian, informing that “Ararat-Service” Ltd./ “Lotos” TV company adopted a decision to suspend the operations of the transmitter since September 14, was dated the same September 14, 2001. The suspension was justified by the refusal of “Noyan Tapan” to go on air without broadcasting its own programs. The letter also expressed disagreement with the quality and contents of “Noyan Tapan” programs, which, as the organization headed by Avagian thinks, “are controversial to Item 10 of the Statutes of ‘Lotos’ TV company and the RA Laws ‘On Television and Radio’ and ‘On Press and Other Media Outlets’”. On the same day a document confirming the end of the cooperation was signed by the two parties.
When asked about the reasons for such a decision on behalf of “Lotos” Tigran Haroutiunian answered: “We are unable to state anything, yet, according to unverified data, political pressure was exercised on ‘Lotos’ TV company. Some people may have not liked the fact that the interactive ‘5th Microphone’ program is becoming sharper and is gaining popularity. We are constantly called by the viewers asking when the broadcasting and this program will be restored.”
The General Director of “Lotos” TV company Pavel Avagian denies any pressure exercised on his organization: “Our decision was pre-conditioned purely by our disagreement with the quality and the contents of the ‘Noyan Tapan’ programs and a desire to improve the air in general. These are mere disagreements between two commercial entities. But we have not burned all the bridges. Presently we consider the possibility of renewing the cooperation. The negotiations are under way, we are trying to find an optimal solution.”
According to Tigran Haroutiunian, “Noyan Tapan” TV company starting from 1997 had repeatedly addressed appropriate structures to receive a broadcast license and “every time we were denied, allegedly, because there was no vacant frequency. Meanwhile, during this period 6-7 new TV companies started to broadcast in Yerevan”, Haroutiunian stressed. As the acting RA Law “On Television and Radio” stipulates, now “Noyan Tapan” TV company has a chance of receiving a broadcast license, if it files an application to the National Commission on Television and Radio to participate in the competition.
As to the renewal of the TV 6 rebroadcasts in Armenia, Pavel Avagian mentioned that this issue also depends on whether “Noyan Tapan” and “Lotos” are able to come to a mutually acceptable solution: “If this happens, the rebroadcasting of TV 6 will be renewed in a couple of days.”