TV tender: Twenty Armenian companies, including A1plus, will compete for frequencies

The names of 20 participants in the tender for television frequencies to be held in December have been released, announcing the bid for 18 licenses.

A1 Plus will compete with ArmNews, and A.L.M.-Holding – with Yerevan Television; the rest of the applicants will have no competition.

“This reminds me of our elections without competitors, when only one candidate is nominated in one electoral district; and those who are not favorites, have competitors, in this case, A1 plus,” Ashot Melikyan, head of Freedom of Speech Protection Committee, told ArmeniaNow.

A1 Plus, which lost its broadcasting license in a tender for television frequencies in 2002, participates in the tender for the 13th time.

Mesrop Movsesyan, head of A1 Plus, is sure that his program is a winning one this time, too; however, it is not the program but rather the political decision, which is decisive for the tender.

“The upcoming tender is a chance not for A1 Plus, but rather for the National Commission on Television and Radio (NCTR), so that it finally returns to the legal field,” Movsesyan says.

In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights upheld A1 Plus’s claims, ruling that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the Armenian authorities’ refusal to grant A1 Plus’ requests for broadcasting license.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in the recent two resolutions, referring to Armenia, demanded to hold a fair and transparent tender.

Representatives of freedom of speech organizations are not optimistic about the tender’s being fair this time.
“The experience of former tenders gives no room for optimism,” Melikyan says.