By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to end television and radio broadcasts to each other’s territory, a senior official in Yerevan revealed on Thursday.
Ashot Verdian, the chief of Armenia’s state-run broadcasting facility, told RFE/RL that a relevant agreement was signed by telecommunication officials from the two feuding countries in Moscow last week. He said they will now ensure that programs broadcast from either country can not be watched or listened to in the other’s territory.
The agreement concerns three Armenian air frequencies belonging to private broadcasters in the northern Tavush region bordering western Azerbaijan. According to Verdian, only one of them based in the town of Berd is currently operational and will have to change “appropriate parameters” of its transmitter so that residents of adjacent Azerbaijani regions are unable to tune in to its broadcasts.
The Azerbaijani side, for its part, will have to curb broadcasting signals on seven frequencies.
The Moscow deal came after Azerbaijani media complaints about the spread of televised “Armenian propaganda” in Azerbaijan. There have also been reports that Azerbaijani viewers can watch programs broadcast by Nagorno-Karabakh television. The latter is not covered by the deal.
Verdian said the two governments decided to address the issue under pressure from the International Telecommunications Union which had given its member states until this month to settle broadcasting disputes with their neighbors. He said Armenia has already worked out similar arrangements with Iran and Russia but has yet to agree with Turkey and Georgia.
Turkish television and FM radio broadcasts are accessible in a large part of Armenia, including Yerevan. Armenian officials complain that the signals are too strong and sometimes jam local airways. They say Ankara has so far ignored Yerevan’s negotiation offers.