Levon Barseghian, Board Chairman of “Asparez” Journalists Club of Gyumri, received an answer of Grigor Amalian, Chairman of National Commission on Television and Radio, to his letters, informing about legislation violations by the First Channel of the Public Television of Armenia. As it has been reported, the reason for inquiring NCTR, the broadcast regulatory body, was the monitoring results of the PTA First Channel, administered by “Asparez” on December 31, 2010, January 1, 2011 and January 14-15, 2011. Levon Barseghian had noted that on the days studied commercial advertising on the air of PTA First Channel exceeded the legislative limits: particularly, the provision of the RA Law “On Television and Radio”, defining a 7% restriction on the advertising volume for the total airtime, was violated; besides, several programs were interrupted by advertising blocs and/or sponsor references more often than authorized by RA Law “On Advertising” (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, February 4-10, 2011 and January 10-20, 2011).
In his reply, dated February 11, 2011, NCTR Chairman informed that he had addressed the Council of Public Television and Radio Company inquiring some elucidations. Considering them as grounded, Grigor Amalian redirected the comments of PTRC Council Chairman Alexan Harutiunian to “Asparez”. Alexan Harutiunian specifically stressed that the Public Television of Armenia starts its daily broadcast at 8.00 and ends it at 8.00 of the next day; whereas “Asparez” monitoring covered only a part of the First Channel overall airtime. According to Alexan Harutiunian, the total airtime of the Public Television makes 48 hours ( 24 hours – First Channel, and 24 – “Ararat” TV channel), and the calculations should proceed from this data. Thus, as asserts the PTRC Council Chairman, there was no violation of the 7% limit on advertising by the PTA First Channel on the monitoring days. The PTRC head sidestepped the issue of frequent interruptions of several programs by advertising blocs and/or sponsor references.
Commenting on the reply of Grigor Amalian, Levon Barseghian expressed his dissatisfaction that NCTR had not examined the issue thoroughly, and had only relied on the PTRC Council Chairman, who in its turn did not answer to all the questions of “Asparez”. In particular, Levon Barseghian is amused that according to Alexan Harutiunian, the Public Television total airtime volume is 48 hours. Proceeding from that logic, one has to take into account not only the airtime of First Channel and “Ararat”, but also other public TV channels – “Shirak” TV, satellite broadcast of First Channel, and Public Radio of Armenia, Levon Barseghian emphasized. Besides, Levon Barseghian stated that Grigor Amalian and Alexan Harutiunian could not be unaware that the First Channel implements a 24-hour broadcast in the Armenian regions, including Shirak region, only on January 1 and 2, while on the other days it broadcasts 18-19 hours. Thus, “Asparez” has monitored the whole broadcast of First Channel, covering Shirak region. Levon Barseghian also told YPC that “Asparez” will continue monitoring the programs of PTA First Channel, and the study results will be stored in a special section on the Journalists Club website (www.asparez.am).