Foreign TV channels outside the jurisdiction of the Armenian regulatory institutions should not be included in the public multiplex, announced Tigran Hakobyan, Executive Director of the TV and Radio Committee.
TV and Radio Committee is Armenia’s regulatory body overseeing the activities of TV and radio companies, is guided by a number of laws, including the Law on Language, according to which 55 percent the contents of broadcast material must be in Armenian. The law, however, is not spread over foreign companies (the US CNN or Russian “1st channel”) included in the public multiplex broadcasting channel.
This issue has a simple solution, according to the head of the TV and Radio Committee. The public multiplex, the task of which is to ensure the fulfilment of the rights of citizens to watch TV channels for free, should not include foreign broadcasters, with exceptions set out by law.
Tigran Hakobyan believes that this is how a sovereign state functions and it is first and foremost linked to information security and necessity to avoid foreign-instigated information manipulations.
Tigran Hakobyan gives examples of TV channels from countries which have hostile relations with Armenia’s neighbors. He believes, that these TV channels are able to create an extremely negative opinion among uncritical Armenian viewers towards Iran or Georgia. This is a serious damage both to Armenia and Armenia’s neighbors.
“We have reviewed the international best practice. There is no single county allowing foreign channels to broadcast in its public multiplex, even in countries with most friendly relations with each other. In Holland, there are no Danish programs in the public multiplex, in Russia, there are no Belarussian programs in the public multiplex. Even though Russia and Belarus are allied in a Union, Belarus’s 9 channels broadcast through the public multiplex do not include a single Russian channel.”
Among the other issues is the issue of payments. Both CNN and, for example, Russia’s “1st Channel” are broadcast in the public multiplex but do not pay the broadcasting station, the Tower, which sustains losses. On the contrary, Armenian TV companies, which operate under much more strenuous financial conditions, make due payments. This, in itself, creates an unequal competitive environment.