Thousands in Armenia Donate To Bring A1+ Back on Air

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Thousands of Armenians have donated small amounts of money to a fund set up to assist a television company that has been struggling for years to regain its broadcasting license.

A group of Armenian scholars and public activists initiated the so-called People’s TV Trust in October with the stated major purpose of helping A1+ TV return to the air, as well as “creating and broadcasting non-profit television programs of public significance.”

In what is largely viewed as a symbolic show of support for having independent television in the country, more than 20,000 citizens have already donated a total of about 3.5 million drams (approx. $10,000) to the cause.

At a press conference on Monday, People’s TV Trust representatives said they intended to go ahead with their project regardless of the outcomes of the broadcast licensing contests due to be announced by the state regulator on December 16.

A1+, a rare television company critical of the government in Armenia, controversially lost its broadcasting license in 2002 and has not been granted another license in any of a dozen contests it has participated in since then.

The company now operating a popular news website and ‘online television’ faces rare competition in one of the ongoing 18 contests for digital broadcasting licenses, 16 of which feature only one bidder per frequency.

Its proposal submitted to the National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAH) this time includes an investment certificate for a total of more than $1 million at the initial stage of business operations.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Monday Yerevan Press Club President Boris Navasardian, who is a member of the People’s TV Board of Trustees, said that “a new situation has emerged today as compared to the situations that existed prior to the previous contests” and did not exclude that this situation might “cause the authorities to allow A1+ to return to the air.”

“I agree that the HRAH is unlikely to make a decision that would go against the wish of the authorities. But we fully understand the impact that international pressure normally has on the authorities, and besides today we have a decision by the European Court of Human Rights,” said Navasardian.

The Strasbourg-based Court fined the Armenian authorities in 2008 over the HRAH’s consistent rejection of A1+ applications for a new frequency, which it said constituted a violation of the “freedom of expression” article of the European Convention on Human Rights.

That ruling, however, did not result in A1+’s immediate return to the air as the Armenian authorities controversially suspended, for about two years, the licensing process citing the need to expedite the country’s transition to mandatory digital broadcasting.

Mesrop Movsesian, the head of A1+’s founding company, Meltex, said he was optimistic about regaining the broadcasting rights this time around.

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11 Comments

  1. Armanen said:

    a1+ was and if back on air, will remain a tool of anti Armenian propaganda masked under the notions of free speech and expression. It was a1+ along with hetq, zhamanak, and a few others that openly called for a revolution in Armenia during 2008 elections.

  2. Hov said:

    As an Armenian living outside of Armenia, for me in fact a revolution is welcomed. Not a bloody revolution, but a civilized one in which the Armenian people both outside and inside will dictate their destiny and their country through democracy, rather than a mafia-style oligarchy.

    It is no secret that diaspora Armenians are made to feel as foreigners in a country which is supposed to be the country of ALL Armenians. Some Armenians like telling other Armenians how it’s so easy for diaspora Armenians to dictate this and than while they are not the ones struggling in Armenia.

    To those Armenians I say, go back to Armenia with your Armenian citizenship, and try to change society there so that diaspora Armenians can feel welcomed once they come there. Until you can do that, then I will sit in my comfort outside of Armenia and dictate what my country should be like.

    • Hayk said:

      My friend! Did you heir this saying ” only country won’t have revolution that is USA because there is no American embassy”.
      So I want to let you know that A1+ was and is propaganda channel for forin powers.
      So they do not need them now, that is why funds have been cut out.
      All big organisation like Soros (Jewish one) and others helped to do
      Orange revolution in Ukraine and “Rose” revolution in Georgia (the country). These organisations are all over CIS region trying to use democracy as a tool to do some thing on there favor.
      Imagine if they could get some thing like that in Armenia,what would happen?
      I would tel you; Levon Ter Petrosyan former kGB agent who never been in Artcax and his friends who sold all Armenia as metal,( I hope you know what I mean( former Soviet factories pies by pies that does not bring any future to the country) to any one.
      He would do same what he did before empty Armenia like he did in 1990-s.
      This foring governments need Armenia with out Armenians(except Russia).

      • Hov said:

        You make some good points Hayk. But still, my vision of the Armenian Government is that first and foremost they must serve all Armenians, not just a select group. I don’t think change is possible over night, but still they must show patriotism in all their actions.

        There are 200%+ more Armenians outside Armenia than inside. Neglecting and overlooking this is extremely dangerous for our culture and very narrow-minded approach to solving problems. The government of Armenia must strive to let all Armenians outside become a process of the country if that is what they (the people) choose.

        Once they do this, Armenians from all over the world will feel a lot more comfortable visiting there, supporting the country, even moving back to the homeland. That is the only way for us that I see, or we will be just another poverty stricken country with a diminishing population living between 200 million Muslims, half of which want us destroyed.

        As far as A1+, I have read it from time to time, and don’t know much about it, just that it has had some interesting articles from time to time. If it is run by foreign powers as you say, then obviously I will be against it, but as I said I have not read it enough to draw my conclusions.

  3. Random Armenian said:

    Armanen,

    Anti-Armenian propoganda? Grow a thick skin. Criticism is important in order to highlight problems in any society. There are issues and should be discussed openly. Deal with it.

  4. Ara Ohanjanyan said:

    There is no such thing as an ani-Armenian propoganada in Armenia, except when somebody is trying to curb Armenia media. That is the real anti-Armenian propoganda.

  5. Ed said:

    Armanen, you are misled. What is anti-Armenian is what the current government and its cronies and oligarchs are doing. If they keep doing whatever they are doing Armenia won’t be a viable state. FYI info I am not a member of any party and have no loyalties to any party. I am just an Armenian who wishes to see a decent Armenia.

  6. Ed said:

    Hov,
    I can understand your feelings but your last sentence really ruins your point: “Until you can do that, then I will sit in my comfort outside of Armenia and dictate what my country should be like.”. If that’s your approach then it’s not your country I am sorry to say…

    • Hov said:

      Well, it is true, actually that is what I said too… it is supposed to be everyone’s country, but with my last point I am admitting that it is not my country. That was not my choice. Can you blame those like me that feel that way? I was planning to go to Armenia, but now I am thinking twice about it, every diasporan that I have spoken to that has gone there have said, ‘nice place to visit, but you will be an outsider’.

      I’m sorry to say, this second republic of Armenia, compared to the first is short-sighted and non-sensical to the diaspora Armenians around the world.

  7. Martik G Nercessian said:

    Freedom of expression is and must be the right of any civilized country, if Armenia is considered so then is unfair to not permit A1+ continuing to broadcast, as simple as this.

  8. marty said:

    Dear hayrenakitsner, how about my proposal: I would like to buy this so called A1+, turn it into a corporation, issue shares on the Armenian Stock exchange. I also would like to reorganize it, so that only true journalists with constructive criticism and unbiased reporting can work.
    How much do you guys think they’d be asking for it? Anyone, if you have an idea or if you know these folks have them send me an email.

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