The decisions of the National Commission on Television and Radio on the 37th and 35th frequencies have generated an extremely negative response of the journalistic community.
On April 2, Yerevan Press Club and “Internews” public organization made a joint statement:
“On April 2 the National Commission on Television and Radio passed a decision, recognizing “Sharm” company the winner of the competition for the broadcast license on 37th UHF of Yerevan. This decision actually deprived one of the best TV companies of the country, “A1+”, of its air.
We voice our concern with the fact that “A1+” is being ousted from the broadcasting sphere, a fact which may impoverish the TV air of the country, restrict the diversity of information and opportunities to express various opinions. We are convinced that for the adoption of an objective decision the Commission was to take into account the activities of “A1+” during the past years, the contribution made by the TV company in the establishment of freedom of speech and diversity of opinion in Armenia.
We believe that the decision made on April 2 politicizes the issue and may become a precedent for silencing and intimidation of the unwanted media and insist that the issue should be viewed purely from a professional angle.
Obviously, the situation is the consequence of the imperfect legislation allowing the judgmental formation of the National Commission on Television and Radio and reshaping the broadcasting sphere, ignoring the interests of the acting and established TV companies. This point is confirmed also by the results of competition for the 35th UHF, making “Shoghakat” company the winner, while leaving out “Noyan Tapan”.
We will support all the legal actions of the TV companies to protect their rights and insist on the necessity for the legislative amendments.”
“Asparez” Journalists’ Club joined the statement of YPC and Internews, noting that “by depriving (…) “A1+” and “Noyan Tapan” (…) of frequencies, the National Commission on Television and Radio (…) became a serious lever for restricting the freedom of speech and opinion”.
On April 2 a joint statement was made by the Association of Investigative Journalists of Armenia, Journalists Union of Armenia and “Iravunk” newspaper. The statement says in particular that the decision of the National Commission of April 2 was a “huge attack on the democratic achievements of Armenia, including freedom of speech”, and voices a demand for the decision to be canceled. The frequency licensing competition was held with a severe violation of the acting legislation, and, therefore, cannot be legally binding, the statement authors note.
On April 4 the Public Television of Armenia expressed its readiness to provide air to “Ayb-Feh”, the newscast of “A1+”, once a day for a month. Previously, the founder of the Armenian Center for National and Strategic Studies, the former RA Foreign Minister Raffi Hovhannisian also offered “A1+” and “Noyan Tapan” to use the media published by his Center for the preparation and dissemination of news and analysis.