On February 14 at the session of the National Commission on Television and Radio the results of the broadcast licensing competitions, announced on September 16 and 17, 2004, were announced. As it has been reported, the National Commission considered the bids for the competitions on December 27 and 28 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, January 7-13, 2005).
The winners of the September 16 competitions were two TV companies, the only ones who claimed the UHFs in Yeghegnadzor and Gyumri: the right to air on 22nd frequency of Yeghegnadzor was won by “Dzori Kanch” LLC and that on 33rd UHF in Gyumri by “CHAP” LLC. The bid of the other only applicant for 36th UHF in Vardenis, “SAMELON” LLC, was deemed by the National Commission to be incompliant with the competition requirements and with the RA Law “On Television and Radio”. Due to this, the competition was annulled. The 22nd UHF in Spitak was claimed by three LLCs at once – “Anna ev Karen”, “Medea Soft”, “Alik-Arman”. By the voting of the National Commission members, the right to broadcast on this frequency was granted to “Anna ev Karen” LLC.
In the competitions of September 17 the winner for the 30th UHF in Artashat was “Telelex” company. The owner of a license to eight FMs in Armenian cities was “ArRadioIntercontinental” company. Neither the TV nor the radio company had competitors. The other package of 20 FMs in different cities of the country was granted to Radio “HAY”, the bid of which was rated by the National Commission higher than that of “Van” radio station.
The greatest interest of the journalistic community was caused by competitions for two FMs in Yerevan, since among the bidders for these was also “MS Explorer” LLC, founded by “A1+” TV company (deprived of air since April 2002) and the Center “Cooperation for Democracy”. By the voting of the National Commission, the right to be aired on 100.6 MHz was granted to “Avrora” radio, and on 101.1 MHz – to “Avtoradio”.
YPC Comment: It remains at least amazing that “A1+”, founded in 1991 and one of the most popular news TV channels for many years on end, is permanently losing broadcast licensing competitions. The authorities and the NCTR continue claiming that all the decisions on “A1+” are adopted by the National Commission on Television and Radio independently and in accordance with the law. In the last report of the Monitoring Group of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers (the group of Roland Wegener) on Armenia implementing its commitments to the CE, approved by the Committee of Ministers on January 22, 2005, it was noted that during the meeting with the RA President in Yerevan, the representatives of the group raised the issue of “A1+”, stressing its “symbolic value”. To this the RA President repeated that he cannot interfere into the frequency allotment process, insisting at the same time on the need for media pluralism in the country and asked again for “an international audit of the Armenian broadcast landscape”. The report of the Wegener Group also voiced its unease over the lack of changes in the membership of the broadcast supervisory bodies (NCTR and the Council of the Public TV and Radio Company), the members of which are still appointed by a single authority, the President of the country. We shall not reiterate again that both the refusal to license “A1+” and the non-democratic procedure of the regulatory bodies formation are in the focus of constant attention of journalistic community as well as reputable international organizations: year after year in practically all the reports on the situation of freedom of expression and press in Armenia the need to solve these two issues is emphasized. Meanwhile, on February 14 the National Commission refused “A1+” the possibility to go on air for the tenth time – this time as a radio…