By Hrach Melkumian
President Robert Kocharian suggested through a spokesman on Thursday that the troubled A1+ channel bid for another frequency, indicating that Armenia’s main independent television station would stand a good chance of returning to the air.
A1+, which has often aired criticism of the authorities, was forced to end its broadcasts at midnight on April 2, several hours after losing its frequency in a controversial tender handled by a commission appointed by Kocharian. The popular channel claims that the tender breached the law and its result was politically motivated. It is challenging the decision in the court.
“Frequency tenders are continuing and the A1+ company has real chances of returning to the air,” the presidential press secretary, Vahe Gabrielian, told reporters.
Gabrielian strongly denied allegations that the National Commission on Television and Radio acted on Kocharian’s orders. He said international media watchdogs that have backed the allegations may change their position after receiving “full information” about the issue from the authorities.
“We believe that the commission acted within boundaries of the law,” Gabrielian said, reiterating Kocharian’s position. He further claimed that opposition parties that have held demonstrations in support of A1+ are concerned with drawing “political dividends” rather than press freedom.
The opposition will hold yet another rally in Yerevan on Friday to renew its demands for the channel’s reopening.