Armenian Public Radio

The Ink

Negotiations to renew Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's broadcast agreement in Armenia have ended, reportedly putting the station's Yerevan office on the verge of closure. As of August 9, the station's Armenian service's programs will no longer be carried on public radio. Critics contend the decision is an attempt to muzzle criticism of government policies.

Under the law "On Television and Radio, " foreign media organizations' broadcasts are prohibited on frequencies used by the Public Television and Radio Company without the consent of the company's board. After expiration of an earlier contract, a new agreement for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) was submitted to Public Television and Radio this February, but was never signed.

Representatives from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent agency that oversees non-military US government-funded overseas broadcasting, and the International Broadcasting Bureau, which provides support for these operations, negotiated with Armenia's Public Television and Radio Company for about a week, but were not able to reach agreement.

In a July 25 televised statement to explain the negotiations' failure, Public Television and Radio Company Board Chairman Alexan Harutiunian stated that his organization had "not impeded, but displayed good will and retransmitted the programs of Radio Liberty from February till today despite the absence of a contract."

"The radio station made payments until February 27 and has not made any payment since then, but the bills were presented to it every month, and that debt today makes about $86, 000. In other words, the public radio funded the retransmission of the radio station's programs since 2007 at the expense of Armenia's state budget, " Harutiunian said.

"Moreover, the public radio expressed readiness to assist in the matter of conducting negotiations with private companies to ensure the consistency of Radio Liberty's broadcasts, " he added.

In a July 24 press release, James K. Glassman, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, stated that the Public Televison and Radio Company had declined payment and had refused to sign a new agreement. Glassman claimed that the "minor technical issues" which had prompted the delegation's trip to Yerevan had been "resolved" during the talks.

"It seems clear that whatever is holding up an agreement has nothing to do with legal, contractual, or technical issues, " he said.

"The potential end of our very fruitful relationship with Public Radio has no economic or other legitimate justification, " added RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin.

The statement affirms that the station's Yerevan office received a communication from the Public Television and Radio Company about its intentions one week after the July 3 failure of legislative amendments that would have imposed stiff fees for the rebroadcast of foreign media materials. [For background details, see the Eurasia Insight archive].


Retrograde
Music ()
2002-07-30 19:58:03 by larrybob

Examples

On KPFA: La Raza Chronicles, Apex Express (Asian/Pacific Islander), Africa Today. There's also the hip-hop themed public affairs program Hard Knock Radio.
KUSF spends most of the weekend on ethnic and religious programming, including Studio Poland, Radio Finland, an Armenian hour, Radio Goethe, a Turkish Cultural program, and some others listed on their schedule that I can't even figure out what culture they're for.
We're talking non-commercial radio here though. Would there be a pledge base to continue the programs? There seems to be the base in other cities, where such programs have existed for years, and in the bay area there is a higher percentage of queers than elsewhere due to migration.

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