PRESENTATION OF “STATE OF THE MEDIA INDUSTRY IN ARMENIA” STUDY
On February 10, at Yerevan Congress Hotel, Yerevan Press Club, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Media Initiatives Center and Internews Network presented the study “State of the Media Industry in Armenia”. The study was conducted in the framework of the “Alternative Resources in Media” program, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The study was held in 2013 and consisted of several components:
– A survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers-Armenia (CRRC-Armenia) among 1,403 households in capital Yerevan and the provinces to reveal the media preferences of the Armenian public, including their expectations of media content, formatting, and media ownership, as well as public trust and perceptions of media freedom and censorship;
– Monitoring of the Armenian media by the Yerevan Press Club to determine the genre and thematic preferences of the Armenian media;
– An expert survey using the Delphi method, carried out in two stages with the participation of 21 experts from various areas of the Armenian media community; and four thematic round tables with a wide range of participants.
The data and opinions obtained through the research have made possible an in-depth analysis of different aspects of the Armenian media industry. These include the country’s legal and regulatory framework; market resources and mechanisms, relationship and dynamics of media supply and demand; socio-political factors influencing the media; the state of journalism education, training of specialists demanded by the industry; the impact of technological progress on the industry; the integration of modern management and business techniques by the Armenian media; opportunities to consolidate efforts to tackle market and professional issues, and the regulation of labor relations.
Boris Navasardian, Yerevan Press Club President, made the presentation of the results. According to the study’s findings, the Armenian society does not trust media and political parties. Thus, the first places in terms of “full trust” is held by the army, followed by the Armenian Apostolic Church, then – NGOs, government, parliament, the judiciary system and at the very end on the scale of trust the media and political parties are situated. Such low indicator of confidence to the media can be caused by widespread opinion in society that media are influenced by politicians. At the same time, as Boris Navasardian emphasized, only a small number of respondents knows who owns a particular media resource.
The YPC President also noted that 79% of respondents mentioned television as the main source of information and only secondarily recalled online media, radio and newspapers. According to him, experts predict the end of print media in the nearest future due to increased audience of online resources. The study also proved that high ranks of popularity among broadcast media products are held by news programs, TV series and music programs. “It is noteworthy that the respondents very often refuse to accept their preference to TV series”, noted Boris Navasardian.
“REGNUM” RUSSIAN NEWS AGENCY CALLED ON ARMENIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES TO RESPOND TO “ANTI-RUSSIAN” PUBLICATIONS
On February 3, Russian news agency “Regnum” released a statement “in connection with the fact that last few months certain Armenian print media contain inflammatory articles that provide readers with false information, which may harm the strategic partnership between Armenia and Russia”.
The statement reads that “stories, based on materials of the media supported by the U.S. Embassy on Russia and the Russians are allegedly attributed to inciting the war in Mountainous Karabagh, spreading various types of dangerous infections in Yerevan. Russia is also made responsible for all the problems in the Armenian economy. In the run-up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, an Armenian newspaper published false information about alleged preparation for terrorist attacks in Armenia by Doku Umarov, a terrorist from Chechnya”.
According to the agency, such publications are aimed at harming Russia and its relations with Armenia, including in the run-up to the latter one’s joining the Customs Union. The statement also contains a request to the readers “not to let anti-Russian forces and publications provoke them, and think twice reading articles about Russia and its partnership with Armenia, to take into account the desire of third forces to split the two countries and slow down the process of Armenia’s joining the Customs and Eurasian Unions”. “Regnum” also addressed Armenian law enforcement agencies “with a request to take immediate actions regarding journalists, who provide readers with false information”.
To put the statement mildly, Armenian journalists were surprised with this opinion.
“‘Regnum’ files complaints to police and provoke Armenian policemen against Armenian journalists,” German Avagian, a photojournalist, reacted in his Facebook account.
“When media of one state starts to declassify ‘customers’ of other state’s media and addresses foreign readers to ‘keep an eye’ – this is a new phenomenon that, probably, fits into ‘customs framework’”, Aram Abrahamian, the Chief Editor of “Aravot” daily, stated. According to him, “Regnum” acts like that, mentioning absurd publications about Doku Umarov and spread of dangerous infections, adding to the ongoing in Armenia quite common discussions on the Customs Union and the role of Russia in the Karabagh conflict, hinting at alleged anti-Russian conspiracy.
“‘Regnum’ warns us that ‘tragic events in Ukraine clearly demonstrate the long-term goals of information manipulators funded by the U.S.’”, the journalist said: “The same ‘dark forces’, presumably also operate in Armenia and are engaged in anti-Russian propaganda.” However, Aram Abrahamian believes that the strangest thing is that “Regnum” addresses law enforcement agencies of Armenia with a request “to take immediate actions” regarding these publications. That is, to punish the Armenian media. According to him, the agency “gives a tip” regarding colleagues and the lawsuit is ready. “Expressing opinion is normal for media outlet, but addressing law enforcement agencies is too much,” Aram Abrahamian believes.
Ashot Melikian, the Chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression, believes that “Regnum” address to Armenian public is as harmful as the nonsense, published in an Armenian newspaper, about preparation of a terrorist attack on Russian sites in Armenia.
“First of all, I wonder why ‘Regnum’? It looks like we are living in the Soviet Union, when the government expressed its position through the Telegraph Agency of Soviet Union (just like in the Soviet series ‘TASS is to declare…’)”, Ashot Melikian said. “Secondly, someone’s sick imagination served a subject for someone’s ‘serious’ findings as ‘damage to strategic partnership between Russia and Armenia’, ‘discrediting the image of Russia and the Olympic Games in Sochi’, ‘third forces striving to split the two countries’.”
The head of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression believes that inappropriate comparisons with events in Ukraine and the statement that they “clearly demonstrate the long-term goals of US-funded information manipulators” is a Cold War rhetoric. “It looks as though to have to be funded by the United States to express the position of being against Armenia’s joining the Customs Union and support the idea of European integration,” the expert said.
And finally, a media outlet has no right to make political statements, especially regarding another country (“Regnum” is a regional, but not Armenian news agency), which is not of “Regnum” mission, Ashot Melikian concludes.
“SHANT” TV FILES NEW CLAIMS AGAINST “IRAVUNK” NEWSPAPER
As “Iravunk” newspaper reported on January 31, “Shant” TV company added two more lawsuits against “Iravunk”, with regard to the newspaper publishing some pieces in its political humor section “Area of Comrade Pandzhuni”.
At present the Court of General Jurisdiction of Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts of Yerevan started hearing the lawsuit of “Shant” TV company’s founder, “Shant” LLC, versus the founder of “Iravunk” newspaper, “Iravunk Media” LLC. The reason for going into a legal action was the piece, called “Another ‘Shant’ ‘Bunko’ and Litigation” (“Iravunk”, June 5, 2013), criticizing the activities of the TV company. The founder of “Shant” demanded from the “Iravunk” founder to publicly apologize, publish a refutation, and pay a compensation for the damage caused by libel and insult , with a total amount of 3 mln AMD, or about 5,400 euros (see in YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 4-10, 2013).
According to “Iravunk” representatives, the amount of the TV company’s financial claims, after the two additional charges, now totals 13 million drams (about 18,000 euros).
“ASPAREZ” NEWSPAPER DISTRIBUTED IN YEREVAN FROM NOW ON
Since February 4, the “Asparez” newspaper appeared in certain newsstands of Yerevan. “Asparez” Journalists’ Club founded the newspaper in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city, in October 2011, and named it “Gyumri-Asparez”, which became the first Armenian regional daily newspaper. “Asparez” has the smallest level of circulation among Armenian dailies – only 550 copies.