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Round table on problems of Radio & TV

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  • Round table on problems of Radio & TV

    Azat Artsakh - Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
    March 19 2004


    Within the framework of the program `Maintenance of Democracy in the
    South Caucasus through Freedom of Speech' Stepanakert Press Club and
    the international organization `Article 19' organized a round table
    on March 16 on the topic `Public Radio and Television: Problems and
    Prospects'. To the round table were invited the member of the board
    of directors of the association of journalists of Poland, freelance
    reporter of the newspaper `Recpospolita' Agneska Romashevska (Poland)
    and the coordinator of the European program of the international
    organization `Article 19' Irina Smolina (Great Britain). At the round
    table were also present representatives of the Karabakh mass media
    and students. The aim was one - to find out what changes have taken
    place in the Artsakh radio and television after giving it a public
    status. The executive director of Artsakh radio and television Garik
    Grigorian informed that recently the public television has been
    provided with new equipment. Investments of 25 thousand dollars have
    been made. However, the new equipment, according to TV reporter
    Narine Aghabalian, is neither due to the council, nor the fact of
    changing the status of the television to public. According to her,
    soon or late those changes were to be made in the television, which
    was dictated by the time. Garik Grigorian mentioned about the
    drawbacks in the legislative sphere. `The reason is the RA law `About
    the Mass Media' adopted under the obligation of the Council of
    Europe, which was introduced in NKR without any changes. Today there
    is a necessity to make changes into this law.' G.Grigorian also
    touched upon the activity of the council of radio and television. `In
    the Republic of Armenia the members of the council are paid, whereas
    here it is not so unfortunately. The members of the council, except
    the chairman of the council, work according to public principles and
    their activity is brought to a level of formality. In Armenia the
    council directs the public television, radio and the studio of
    documentary films `Yerevan' and carries out gigantic work. Here the
    council meets once a month.' According to G. Grigorian, we are at
    martial law therefore we should realize the value of word. `The
    notion of full freedom or independence is unintelligible for me,'
    mentioned the executive director. In her greeting Irina Smolina
    mentioned that in all the post-Soviet countries the problem of truly
    independent mass media persists. In many countries, according to her,
    only the signs are changed, whereas the activity remains the same.
    She said that everything should be done to found a truly public
    television for which it is absolutely necessary to be independent of
    the government, first of all, financially. According to her, it is
    the viewers and the listeners that should implement financing. In the
    name of the council Naira Hayrumian summed up the results of the work
    done in the past year. According to her, much cannot be done within
    an hour of broadcasting, especially that the television of Artsakh
    does not have its own broadcasting frequency but is transmitted by
    others' channels. And the solution of this problem, according to
    Naira Hayrumian, requires about 100-150 thousand dollars. She also
    mentioned the question of increasing the salaries in the radio and TV
    for which 17 million AM drams were provided from the state budget.
    Besides, according to her, two new programs have been broadcast, the
    transmission of the parliamentary hour has been resumed, as well as
    the projects of two new talk shows are with the chairman of the
    council Maxim Hovhannissian which are still to be discussed. Naira
    Hayrumian mentioned that there is need for entertainment shows.
    According to her, it is also very important to decide the rating of
    this or that program and to have the web site of the television. The
    editor-in-chief of the public radio Vilen Bakhshiyan commented on the
    idea of Gegham Baghdassarian, the head of the press club that in the
    recent 30 years no changes took place in the radio. According to him,
    changes were made in the 70's and 80's. `Only in these recent years
    they were not significant.' Vilen Bakhshiyan sees their solution in
    acquirement of new equipment. Although there were also suggestions to
    make changes in the staff. The head of the permanent committee of the
    National assembly for foreign relationships and information Vahram
    Atanessian touched upon the changes provided in the legislation about
    the council of radio and television. According to him, the
    legislative field has drawbacks. Besides, the attitude of the
    authorities towards the radio and television when transforming from
    state to public was not always positive. `It is wrong to unite the
    radio and television. One of the serious steps would be separating
    them. Moreover, they both must be funded equally.' According to V.
    Atanessian, it is necessary to constitute a special commission which
    will deal with providing broadcasting frequencies and licensing. He
    also emphasized the importance of overcoming the inertness of the
    society, journalists and the political sphere. `Is there demand for
    information? It seems that the society is satisfied with the
    information it receives (the sources of which are not always
    official) whereas the mass media are for educating taste and not for
    providing mere information,' he said. According to the head of the
    main department of information under the NKR president Alexander
    Grigorian, a public television does not mean a multi-party television
    and radio. And in answer to the opinions about becoming financially
    independent of the state, A. Grigorian said, `Who in that case will
    finance it if not the state? Is our society ready to finance the
    public radio and television?' Agneska Romashevska spoke on the topics
    of standards of public TV broadcasting, difficulties in transforming
    from state to public radio and television, the tactics of the public
    radio and television in the absence of an alternative television. She
    presented in detail how this process took place in her home country,
    Poland. She mentioned that the journalists are the eyes and ears of
    the society and therefore have an important role in building society.
    The participants of the round table unanimously characterized the
    activity of the public radio as `not excellent'. As to the reasons,
    the opinions were different. Some think that technical supply will
    help to raise the quality of programs, others think that technical
    support is not enough and changes in the staff are also necessary.
    Radio reporter Seyran Karapetian supported the first idea. A.
    Romashevska added that it will not be possible to attract young
    audience unless the time of radio broadcasting is not prolonged.
    According to her, the best hours for radio programs are morning
    hours, and this gap should also be filled. Member of the Stepanakert
    Press Club Karine Ohanian presented the results of the public opinion
    poll held among 50 journalists, aiming to find out their opinion what
    changes took place in the public radio and television after changing
    it into public. Thirty of the questioned fifty were workers of the
    radio and television. Thus, in reference to radio 28 answered that no
    changes were made (of them 17 working in the radio or television).
    Nine people think that certain changes were made. In reference to the
    television 19 people think that the appearance changed, but the
    contents remained the same. 16 think that certain changes took place.
    29 said they prefer the news and analytical programs of the public
    television, 10 watch mainly social and political programs, 9 people
    watch all the programs, 5 people do not watch any programs, 3 found
    it difficult to answer and 5 gave different answers. In reference to
    the public radio 19 said they prefer information and analytical
    programs, 20 people do not listen to any programs (of them 12 work in
    the radio or television), 5 prefer social-political, 4 cultural,
    sport and entertainment programs, 4 listen to all the programs, 2
    people prefer popular scientific programs and 2 people Russian
    programs. 4 of the questioned found it difficult to answer. `Does the
    staff of the public television correspond to the present standards?'
    This was the next question to which 18 people said that mainly yes
    (15 working in the television or the radio), and 15 said mainly no. 7
    people gave a negative answer. 2 people gave a positive answer, 4
    people found it difficult to answer and 4 gave other variants. In
    answer to the same question referring to the public radio 15 people
    said that mainly yes, 13 gave a negative answer. 9 think that mainly
    yes, 1 gave a positive answer, 11 people found it difficult to answer
    and 1 gave a different variant of answer. The question `What changes
    would you like to see in the public television and radio?' was
    interesting in the sense that there were no fixed variants of answer
    and the questioned had to give their opinions. Thus, 46 people think
    that the public television needs new programs, freedom, actuality,
    independence from the authorities. 15 people think that there is need
    for greater responsibility and professionalism. 12 are for staff and
    structural changes. 12 (all of them working in the radio and
    television) think there is need for improvement of technical
    conditions, 6 mentioned the need of increasing the hours of
    broadcasting. As to the radio, the picture is the following: 26 think
    there is a need for new programs, freedom, actuality, independence
    from the authorities, 16 (all of them working in the radio r the
    television) mention the need for improvement of technical conditions,
    13 are for staff and structural changes, 8 are for increasing the
    hours of broadcasting, and 5 would like to see fundamental changes in
    the radio.