About two dozen companies made presentations of their packages to the broadcast regulatory authority on Thursday in an ongoing licensing tender for television frequencies in which Armenia’s closed TV is facing a rare competition.
A1+, seeking to regain its broadcasting license after staying off the air for more than eight years, is in competition with an operating TV station, ArmNews, that alternates its current broadcasts with half-hourly retransmissions of programs from pan-European news channel EuroNews.
Only two of the 18 contests for frequencies are competitive.
Meltex, the A1+ founding company, sought to impress the National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAH) with its tender package boasting of self-funding and pledging a programming based on “panhuman values”, such as principles of justice, human rights, tolerance and plurality.
The company also presented investment certificates for a total of more than $1 million to implement the initial phase of its proposed project.
A1+ producer Susanna Ohanjanian said these investments and the existing equipment worth about $160,000 “are fully sufficient for the implementation of the whole program.”
Meltex said it expected financial revenues from commercials, film production and information sales, with the revenue in the first year of operation expected to stand at $255,000 and in the first five years to exceed $3 million.
The company’s representative also assured the HRAH that “cutting-edge hardware” would be purchased and that the company “stands ready to go on the air and take its place in the market.”
The HRAH gave no questions to A1+ representatives.
A1+, a rare television company critical of the government, controversially lost its broadcasting license in 2002 and has not been granted another license in any of a dozen tenders it has participated in since then.
The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights 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.
A1+’s rival company ArmNews did not hear questions from HRAH members at the end of its presentation either.
ArmNews said it had acquired “a financially stable business” over the years of broadcasting activities. The company said in the past five years it has made a revenue of about $1.4 million and now possesses equipment worth about $525,000 and a 72-member staff. The company also boasts digital technologies introduced in 2008 and hopes to switch to new digital broadcast without additional investment. In the next 10 years, the company expects a net profit of about $2.1 million.
ArmNews editor-in-chief Vahe Ghazarian also spoke about “impartial and objective information” and “ensuring pluralism” as he presented the package.
“The television company is not a mouthpiece for any political group and will, therefore, rule out any biased or ‘guided’ attitude towards any political group,” he said.
The winners in the contests are due to be announced on December 16.