YPC Weekly Newsletter
2004
September 17-23
YPC ANNUAL AWARD

On September 22 at the Business Center of American University of Armenia the Annual Award ceremony of Yerevan Press Club was held. The award was established in 1998 to encourage the greatest accomplishments of journalists and media organizations of Armenia. This year the ceremony was organized by Yerevan Press Club jointly with “Partnership for Open Society” initiative.

The jury, who determined the awardees, included: Vardan Aloyan (Director of CS Publishing House, previously, the former Chief Editor of “Respublika Armenia” newspaper), Arshavir Gazazian (Correspondent of “Deutsche Welle” radio station in Armenia), Ruzan Khachatrian (Correspondent of Radio “Liberty” Armenian Service), Vigen Sargsian (External Relations Officer of the World Bank Mission in Armenia), Nouneh Sarkissian (Managing Director of Internews Armenia).

The YPC awardees for this year are:

The web site of “A1+” TV company www.a1plus.am - for being up-to-date and becoming an established online medium;

Hakob Berberian, photojournalist - for creative depiction of social problems;

Armen Melikbekian, sports commenter of the Public Television of Armenia - for competent and impartial commenting on the Spain and Europe Football Championships;

“Photolure” news agency - for creative progress in 2003-2004;

Atom Margarian, observer of Radio “Liberty” Armenian Service - for the best coverage of economic issues;

Hranush Hakobian, chairwoman of the Standing Commission of the RA National Assembly on Science, Education, Culture and Youth Issues - for being open and transparent in work and for effective cooperation with journalists.

Traditionally special prizes were conferred on awardees by missions of international organizations and public sector.

The Media Diversity Institute Coordinator in Armenia Artur Papian awarded Hakob Berberian.

The Head of World Bank Mission in Armenia Roger Robinson granted a prize to Atom Margarian.

The Chairwoman of the Journalists Union of Armenia Astghik Gevorgian conferred a special award to Armen Melikbekian.

Hranush Hakobian, the web site of “A1+” TV company and “Photolure” news agency were awarded prizes by “Partnership for Open Society” initiative.

INTERNATIONAL STRUCTURES AND MEDIA

On September 19-21 in Tsaghkadzor seminar “International Structures and Media: Relations and Ethics” was held, organized by Yerevan Press Club with the assistance of Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The seminar brought together representatives of media and international organizations. The presentations and discussions were devoted to the Armenian media coverage of international structures, in particular, the Council of Europe, UN, the Open Society Institute, USAID, the role of these organizations as an information source on developments of interest to Armenia. The event was a part of a joint project of YPC and Friedrich Ebert Foundation, aimed at the development of media self-refutation mechanisms and principles of journalistic ethics in Armenia. The theme of the last seminar was prompted by the active interest of media during the recent months to international organizations and the urgency of the problem of maintaining professional norms while covering their activities.

WHAT DOES THE PLAINTIFF WANT?

On September 20 the RA Court of Appeals dismissed the suit of the resident of Khachpar village of Ararat region Marineh Gabrielian versus the Chief Editor of “Ararat” regional newspaper Karineh Ashughian because of the absence of the plaintiff’s representative from the hearings. Marineh Gabrielian had challenged with the Court of Appeals the ruling of the primary jurisdiction court of Ararat region, Masis city, of December 23, 2003, according to which the suit on compensating the material damage was left unconsidered for the same reason - the absence of the plaintiff’s representative at the court session (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 19-25, 2003). Marineh Gabrielian had demanded to compensate her expenses of 125,000 drams (about $ 220), incurred, as she alleged, during the previous litigations between the parties in 2001-2002 (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, November 7-13, 2003).

While commenting on this lengthy litigation, Yerevan Press Club noted that having taken the plaintiff’s side and obliging the Chief Editor (in July 2002) to publish a refutation for the communication confirmed by 115 people, the court actually created a dangerous precedent. The plaintiff, inspired by her success, went further and is now demanding to be compensated the material damage, at the same time, strange as it may seem, not going into the trouble of either being present herself or sending a representative to the court session.

APPEAL OF “INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS” DECLINED

On September 16 the RA Court of Appeals refused the suit of “Investigative Journalists” NGO versus the Yerevan municipality. As it has been reported, in early July the organization challenged the ruling of the court of primary jurisdiction of Center and Nork-Marash communities of Yerevan of June 21 that refused securing the demand of the plaintiff to the administration of the capital to provide it with documents necessary for journalistic investigation (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, July 2-8, 2004). The documents in question were the resolutions of the municipality of 1997-2003 on the constructions in the public green zone around the National Opera and Ballet Theater. The ruling of the court of primary jurisdiction had the motivation that the organization had not attempted to get the information needed from other state agencies before addressing the municipality, and its inquiry was not specific enough. On their behalf “Investigative Journalists” sent a new inquiry to the municipality, listing all the enterprises of interest that are operating today on the territory around the Opera and Ballet Theater.

At the hearings of the Court of Appeals, the municipality representative read out the response to this query that said in particular: “The document package on the enterprises that use the land is addended by State Register certificates. The State Register certificates the names of the founders of enterprises are not specified, therefore, the information on land allocation to the enterprises specified by you cannot be provided.” Although inquiry was centered not around the names of the enterprise owners, but on the legitimacy of them being allocated the territories, and dismissing the argumentation of the plaintiff on access to information in accordance with the legislation in force in Armenia, the court of secondary jurisdiction refused the appeal of “Investigative Journalists”. The organization announced that it intends to challenge the decision with the RA Court of Cassation.

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.

OVER THIRTY FREQUENCIES TO BE COMPETED FOR

On September 17, the National Commission on Television and Radio announced broadcast licensing competitions on 30th UHF of Artashat (Ararat region) and on two FMs in Yerevan - 100.6 and 101.1 MHz. Besides, the competitions were announced for two FM-packages in a number of Armenian cities. The first package includes eight frequencies: 106.1 of Noyemberian, 105.5 of Berd, 105.9 of Amasia, 104.2 of Stepanavan, 104.2 of Sisian, 105.1 of Goris, 104.7 of Kapan, 102.9 of Meghri. The second package includes twenty frequencies: 107.1 of Sevan, 106.6 of Gyumri, 106.3 of Vanadzor, 106.7 of Sisian, 105.4 of Meghri, 107.2 of Kapan, 105.6 of Goris, 102.8 of Jermuk, 104.8 of Yeghegnadzor, 102.2 of Stepanavan, 100.4 of Ashtarak, 105.3 of Spitak, 105.5 of Hrazdan, 103.7 of Gavar, 100.2 of Dilijan, 101.6 of Ijevan, 103.6 of Noyemberian, 100.5 of Artashat, 100.4 of Armavir, 101.3 of Echmiadzin.

The deadline for bids in the competition is on December 15, 2004. The National Commission will consider the bids on December 28.

None of the frequencies mentioned is currently broadcast on. As it has been reported, earlier, on September 16, the National Commission announced competitions for five vacant frequencies, too (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, September 10-16, 2004).

INTERNEWS ARMENIA AWARDED TV JOURNALISTS

On September 18 the results of competition of TV newscast among private TV companies, held by Internews Armenia with financial assistance of USAID, were announced. The prize in the nomination “News program of Yerevan-Based TV company” was awarded to “Horizon” newscast of “Shant” (Yerevan), and journalist of the same channel Artak Hovhannissian became an awardee in nomination “Report on specific events: at the right time and place”. The winner in the nomination of “News program of regional TV company” is “Fortuna” TV (Stepanavan). The award “Special report: special approach” was granted to Nerses Matinian (“Interkap” TV, Vanadzor). In two nominations “Mirror: thematic report on the role of media” and “Journalistic investigation: closed folder” no prizes were conferred. Also, two special prizes were awarded to “Yerkir-Media” TV for the best launch and innovative approach and Hakob Badalian (“AR” TV) for unique style. Incentive awards were granted: "Keen glance” - Hasmik Ohanian (“Kentron” TV), “Promising start” - Christina Mkrtchian (“Shant” TV, Gyumri) and Irina Hovhannissian (“Yerkir-Media”).

PTA YOUTH CHANNEL CHANGES ITS NAME

Since September 20 the channel for youth of the Public Television of Armenia “First Channel-Yerevan”, aired on 48th UHF of Yerevan, started to broadcast with a new logotype “Nor Alik”. The programming policy of the channel has changed, too: from now on it will not be airing the programs of PTA “First Channel”.

When reprinting or using the information above, reference to the Yerevan Press Club is required.

You are welcome to send any comment and feedback about the Newsletter to: pressclub@ypc.am

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Editor of YPC Newsletter - Elina POGHOSBEKIAN

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