Armenia will fully switch to digital broadcasting in summer 2015. This is one of the reasons that for a long time no contests have been held in the country for television frequencies. The last tender for TV frequencies was announced by the National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAH) in 2010.
Ara Ghazaryan, a lawyer and co-founder of the Supremacy of the Law group, stresses the lack of competitive conditions as a counterbalancing mechanism. As a result, we have 18 TV Companies that will continue to remain after the digitization process for submitting a solid financial package rather than providing pluralism.
“Until now no reasonable explanations have been given as to why the number of transmitters stopped on 18, since we know that this cannot be determined by the lack of frequencies since it vanishes with the arrival of digital technology,” says Ara Ghazaryan.
Regional television stations have appeared in a more difficult situation as they will have to discontinue their broadcasts in the existing analog format at the end of the digitization process in 2015.
There are five analog TV Companies only in Lori region which were denied a broadcast licence by the HRAH. Their fate will remain unknown after the country’s transition to digital broadcasting.
Narine Avetisyan, executive director of “Lori” TV Company, does not believe that the government and the officials regulating the sphere will tell them the Company to throw away everything, close its doors and send employees home as ‘they no longer need us.’
In 2010, the HRAH granted licences to one broadcaster from each region.
In January 2014, Armenia signed a contract with Swedish “Ericsson” Company from which the country will purchase equipment for digital broadcasting and although $10,6 million is envisaged to be invested in Armenia under the contract, no concrete steps have been taken to convince local companies that the process will be completed within the timeframe.