By Ruzanna Khachatrian
A1+, Armenia’s leading independent television shut down by the authorities last year, took Monday another chance to return to the air in a contest for broadcasting licenses administered by a presidentially appointed commission.
The channel submitted a bid for two air frequencies that will be awarded by the National Commission on Television and Radio on October 9. Both are currently held by two private channels owned by government-connected businessmen. Its director, Mesrop Movsesian, said he hopes A1+ will win one of the two tenders despite its failure to do so last July when the commission rejected its bids for other frequencies.
The decision prompted a chorus of criticism from Armenian media rights groups and international organizations which described it as a further blow to media freedom. Even some members of the governing coalition denounced it, questioning the commission’s independence and impartiality.
However, Kocharian has dismissed the criticism, indicating through a spokesman that the July bidding took place in accordance with the law.
The submission of the A1+ bid coincided with a lawsuit filed by Movsesian against the chairman of the broadcasting body, Grigor Amalian. Movsesian claims that Amalian failed to substantiate the outcome of the July tender.