The decision of the National Commission on Television and Radio of January 18 to penalize “Hayrenik TV” for rebroadcasting the programs of French “Mezzo” channel and unauthorized demonstration of films (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, January 14-20, 2005) caused much response in the press. (“Hayrenik TV”, broadcasting since 2001, is the only channel in Armenia intended for children and essentially non-commercial. The owner of the TV company is a well-known entrepreneur Hrant Vardanian, the President of “Grand Holding” company.)
“Ayb-Feh” weekly (January 21-27, 2005) was surprised that the NCTR Chairman Grigor Amalian “has just noticed” “Mezzo” on the air of “Hayrenik TV”, while the rebroadcasts are made for the third year already. "During the broadcast licensing competition in 2002 the same Amalian, answering a journalist’s question, said confidently, that “Hayrenik” had no problems to rebroadcast “Mezzo”",”Ayb-Feh” reminds and stresses that “Hayrenik” continues the rebroadcasts of the French channel to this day.
“Iravunk” newspaper (January 25-27, 2005) referring to “certain sources” supposed that the “strictness” of NCTR Chairman is not totally without context, “since he is somewhat related to film licensing and the license for demonstration of one film costs over 100 USD, which is quite a burden for the children TV channel”, which is “Hayrenik TV”.
In its issue of January 29 “Azg” daily reported the response of the head of the National Commission to article “Who Does the NCTR Head Grigor Amalian Fight With and What For?” published by the daily on January 28. Grigor Amalian reminded the newspaper of the biblical commandment “Thou Shalt Not Steal”.
This response gave rise to new comments. On February 1 “Novoye Vremya” newspaper in an editorial comment to the article by Arman Vaneskeghian, the press-secretary of “Grand Holding”, asked: “How proper is it to punish “Hayrenik TV” for “Mezzo”, considering our not very rich cultural life (…). What is on the other side of balance? Is the Commission as consistent and strict to other Armenian channels where there is a plenty of shallow films and programs – are they all licensed, is all this production acquired legally and demonstrated or re-broadcast by international rules? Has no one “stolen” anything? Besides, there are ten commandments, and “thou shalt not steal” is only one of them. There are also others, say, the worldly commandment “thou shalt make no damage…” Make no damage to thousands of lovers of serious musical programs that can hardly be found on any other channel.” In the article itself the press-secretary of “Grand Holding” notes: “I was sure that French “Mezzo” channel itself demanded the National Commission on Television and Radio to stop its unauthorized rebroadcasts. (…) Imagine the surprise when it turned out that the French had nothing to do with this and had made no protest." Arman Vaneskeghian also reminded that “Grand Holding” allocated to “Hayrenik TV” “almost two million USD throughout its existence, spent to create quality and non-violent programs, the goal of which is the education of future generation”.
“Haikakan Zhamanak” daily (February 1, 2005) voiced a number of questions too: “Is NCTR monitoring all other TV companies to determine violations of the law, is the duration of lotteries, commercials corresponds to the limits stipulated by the law, is the volume of the self-produced programs compliant with the legal provisions, is..? In response it these questions Amalian always says that the technical capacities of the Commission are restricted and it is impossible to be checking everything thoroughly.”
The opinion of the newspapers above is shared by “Golos Armenii” newspaper (February 1, 2005): “The problem of “Mezzo” did not escape the attention of NCTR. But, say, the lottery advertising, often exceeding the time limits stipulated by the law, does not worry the Commission. Other, much more outrageous and scandalous facts of incompliance of some Armenian channels with not simply some clauses of the law, but to it in general, can be quoted. And of course, examples of the passive behavior of Commission in terms of revealing such offences can be quoted as well.”
“Aravot” daily (February 2, 2005) thinks it is difficult to determine who is right in the conflict of NCTR and “Hayrenik TV” and advises the owner of the latter to file a suit with the court. At the same time the newspaper expresses its amazement at the fact that “Hayrenik TV” has more supporters than “A1+” and “Noyan Tapan” had when deprived of air by the same Commission: "Currently the National Commission on Television and Radio is accused of lack of state thinking even by those media who used to stand for it might and main.” Besides, in the opinion of “Aravot”, “the extreme indignation due to penalizing “Hayrenik TV” is also explained by the fact that no one in Armenia expect NCTR to pass a decision, corresponding to the law”. This is why, the newspaper stresses, also in the case of “Hayrenik” many people refuse to see it as a purely legal problem: “They are trying to find other reasons for such unusual actions of NCTR – such as backstage fight against the owner of “Hayrenik” TV company, etc. And frankly speaking, this version seems to be the closest to reality.”