Armenia’s Broadcast License Fiasco

NCTR Votes on A1+ License

Armenia -- NCTR votes on "A1+" and "ArmNews" Applications for Broadcast License, Yerevan, 16Dec2010, © Photo by Gegham Vardanian

Armenia’s embattled A1+ TV company, which has been off the air for almost a decade, has been defeated in another frequency tender administered by the state regulator after allegedly submitting fraudulent documents.

The results of the process published by the National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAR) showed A1+ trailing the operating TV channel, ArmNews.

A1+, represented by Meltex Ltd., received only two points from the commission compared with 44 points for the company representing ArmNews, a TV station that currently alternates its news programs with half-hourly retransmissions from the pan-European news channel EuroNews.

The most trusted name in Armenian broadcast news at the time, “A1+” TV channel was shut down on April 2, 2002. The TV company was highly critical of than President Robert Kocharian and the move to shut it down was seen as an attempt to take it off the air ahead of Presidential elections scheduled in 2003.

Since closure, “A1+” television Company has participated in a dozen government-run tenders on broadcast licensing, and it has been refused a license on every occasion by the National Commission on Television and Radio (NCTR), a state licensing authority fully controlled by president Robert Kocharian.

Media Experts in Armenia widely expected that the broadcast license would become another fiasco, but the publication of the results and the image of NCTR members holding ‘0’ above their heads hurt badly. Not because it was unexpected, but because of the realization, that a miracle won’t happen and the media in this country will continue its shameful procession on the path of self-censorship and butt-kissing.

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7 thoughts on “Armenia’s Broadcast License Fiasco

  1. isn’t A1 owned by 2 otars? or have I confused another Hayastani media outlet being owned by 2 otars for A1?
    also, what I dont understand is why would A1 try to re-apply for broadcasting license when they know well that they will be turned down again & again. what is the point of trying, so long as rk/ss are alive, they will see to it that A1 does not get back on the air…. plain & simple !
    A1 as youtube and other internet outlets it is broadcasting on
    as it is the under 40 crowd mostly receive their news from the net anyway
    if you want to get ahead in life you either have to be connected to those who have the wealth & power to make it happen for you or you bow down to them. once you realize that bowing down does not work in your favor, then rebel and move on

  2. Observer jan, sorry to have seen this so late

    I have a strong believe that A1+ did not want a license this time, but just wanted to make a show. And I am really sorry to realize this, because every such step makes A1+ weaker and brakes once made good image.

    I do not consider A1+ an independent media though, it is an oppositional media, and those are two different things.

    Nevertheless, I think oppositional media should be given an opportunity to broadcast and apply for TV license. This is what European Court thought as well.

    Now, NCTR gave a them chance to present documents and proposals for obtaining TV broadcasting license. I think the time-frame was really long enough to prepare proper proposals.
    What did A1+ do? It presented supporting promises from companies, which do not exist. One of the proposals was sealed by a completely different company’s seal.

    At the time of results announcement head of A1+ argued and said, that the allegations were absurd and that the companies promising their support are very well known in the world, having their branches in many countries.

    Meanwhile, today the same guy from A1+ said in his press-conference that those two companies approached A1+ few days before the tender deadline and A1+ still needs to review their credentials.

    Do you believe a serious media would engage in its vital, strategic proosal two companies from Belize and UK that appear two days before the deadline and offer their support? I don’t. Moreover, I think A1+ lies.

    I am afraid this story with fake companies will become a strong argument in NCTR’s hands every time anyone (including European court) speaks about giving license to A1+ in the future.

    Everyone knows how biased NCTR is, now to “save” its image A1+ wants to compare its proposal to other companies’ proposals. But this is not a method to prove you were not fake. If I was A1+ I would not participate this time. It would save more of my supporters.

    Now I know for myself that A1+ is able to fake the documents, and it hurts me. Moreover, A1+ continues to “play” this game, so everyone else believes they are right. This simply kills the last drop of hope in me that these guys are somewhat innocent.

    There is another side of the coin, let us imagine A1+ is so innocent, so pure and so amateur that it does not check the financial flows and supporters that want to engage in obtaining license. To me, if this is really so, this company should never be given a TV license. For very well-known reasons.

    Overall, again knowing how biased sometimes our state is and state authorities are, knowing that European Court hopes you are a serious company worth to be given a TV license, knowing that many people believe you are independent and objective, knowing that today you are one of the leaders in oppositional media, you should not play those fake documents games, losing your supporters’ last portion of trust.

    This is why I think A1+ knew very well what it was doing. It simply underestimates a thinking potential, common sense and logic of an average analyzing person. Which is pity.

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