RFE/RL President Urges Armenian President To Help Return RFE to Air

RFE/RL President Thomas Dine Urges Armenian President To Help Return
“Azatutiun” To TV Airwaves

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(Prague/Washington — October 19, 2004) RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine
today sent a letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharian, denouncing the
“Soviet-style” cancellation of the new RFE/RL Armenian Service news and
analysis program, “Azatutiun” by the private Armenian television station
Kentron. Dine urges President Kocharian “to denounce this contemptible
Soviet-style act, and to help return “Azatutiun” to the air.”

In his letter, Dine asserts that he is “determined to get “Azatutiun”
back on the air and will make every effort to make that happen —
including raising this issue with the Bush Administration, the U.S.
Congress, the Council of Europe, and non-governmental organizations

“Azatutiun,” a new television program created by and featuring news and
analysis from RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, was abruptly pulled from the
schedule of the local Armenian television station “Kentron” on October
13, three days after it debuted to rave reviews on Kentron. Although the
television station’s management has made no comment on the decision, it
is widely suspected that Kentron was pressured to suspend further
broadcasts of the program, either by official interests or local media

The suspension of the “Azatutiun” program has been widely covered in the
Armenian press. On October 14, “Aravot” daily alleged that the head of
Armenian state television and radio, Aleksan Harutiunian, was
instrumental in the ban because he wanted RFE/RL to lease airtime from
his channel and pay for that. Harutiunian, in an interview published by
“Aravot” on October 15, denied any involvement in the suspension of
“Azatutiun”. In his letter to President Kocharian, however, Dine states
that he has been “personally informed that this cancellation was the
result of pressure from a high-level Armenian government official.”

RFE/RL’s Armenian Service broadcasts four hours of programming a day to
Armenia, produced in Prague and the service’s Yerevan Bureau and
transmitted to listeners via shortwave, satellite and FM, AM, Cable
Radio, UKV and longwave signals provided by local affiliate stations.
Armenian Service programming is also available via the Internet, at the
service’s website and at

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is a private, international
communications service to Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe; the
Caucasus; and Central and Southwestern Asia funded by the U.S. Congress
through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress