Media Moguls: On the Trail of Armenian TV Owners; Foreign & Domestic

Media Moguls: On the Trail of Armenian TV Owners; Foreign and Domestic

[ 2010/05/17 | 15:18 ]
Feature Stories media
Edik Baghdasaryan

Owing to its large audience and influence on the viewer,TV has become
an important weapon in the strugle being waged foreconomic and
politcal power. The ruling elites have realized that the impact of the
print media in the country has waned and that it is TV broadcatsers
who actually help shape public opiniomn.

After the 1998 elections, the regime started to take the broadcast
media `under its wing’. During the ensuing years the regime has
succeeded, by using all the leverage at its disposal, to establish
widespread supervision of TV broadcasters, by prior `selection’ of
station owners. To speak about the independence of TV broadcasting in
Armenia today would be fallacious.

Practically all TV stations are subject to state monitoring. This
issue has bee raised for many years now, and not just in Armenia.
Various international organizations have also reached the same
conclusion. I say `practically’ all since there are at least two TV
stations that do not submit to the `Center’. I will come to them

The news and political programming of TV stations is monitored and
supervise from the one center; the presidential office. This
dependency on the center becomes especially evident during election
campaigns as well as during times of political tensions.

What would happen if these stations did not submit or follow the
dictates from the center. To give a specific answer we must clarify
how the TV stations operating today came to be and how they received
public broadcasting rights. Just as important, we must understand who
the real owners of these stations are.

According to information from the Ministry of Justice, some of
Armenia’s TV stations are financed by foreign capital sources.

Some of the information regarding these companies is not available
publicly since they are closed joint corporations. We sent a letter of
inquiry to Grigor Amalya, President of the National Commission on
Television and Radio (NCTR) for some information on these companies.

We wanted to know, in particular, if the NCTR knew anything about the
foreign capital connection. We pointed out the fact that one of the
founders of one of the TV stations was a company registered in the
British Virgin Islands, considered an off-shore zone. Has the NCTR
ever taken the time to find out just who is behind this off-shore

We received a reply from Jirayr Dadasyan, NCTR Deputy Chaiorman.

`In answer to your letter, let me state that the NCTR, within the
limits of its jurisdiction, checks the existence of prohibitions
regarding the founders of TV stations as envisaged by the RA Law on TV
and Radio, Article 17. The Committee inspects the personal operations
of the TV stations, in which are included the charter documents of the

These charter documents include information on the individual founders
and who owes what percentage of shares. Given this information, the
NCTR can easily determine the percentage of foreign capital involved .
As to the question of the shareholders of the foreign corporation,
`Article 17 of the above-mentioned law sets no restriction regarding
foreign holdings or the country of registration. Thus, the NCTR has no
jurisdiction to clarify such issues.’ Our research has shown that the
NCTR has not clarified the share of foreign capital participation and
the identity of the founders when it comes to certain TV stations.

`Armenia TV’

The owner of this TV station is `Armenia TV’, a closed stock company.
By law, the shareholders of closed stock companies remain undisclosed
if that is the wish of the shareholders. Bu Article 17 of the RA Law
on TV and Radio contains a point about founders, saying that at te
time of the founding of TV station, or afterwards, the extent of
foreign capital participation must not be equal to or exceed the
operating capital employed by the broadcasting company This means
that the NCTR is obliges to know who the shareholder are. It is the
NCTR that must first get to the bottom of who the shareholders are and
the foreign capital involved. It is hard to say if this point of the
law has been violated or not, since such information has not yet been
made public. Then again, there are many instances of which we know of
when organizations hide such information from the public. There is
foreign capital involved in the TV stations owned by Armenia Media
Holding and there are suspicions that in all three companies the
percentage of foreign capital exceeds half.

Armenia TV was founded in 1999 by the Sargsyan family. The well known
American benefactor Gerald Cafesjian also became a shareholder in
2001. Today the two shareholders are the Cafesjian Family’ foundation
and the Sargsyan family. On September 4, 2004, ceremonies marking the
launch of CS Media, or otherwise known as Armenia Media Holding were
held. This is a giant holding company which owns `Armenia’, ArmNews’
and television stations, `FM 10³ radio and a number of other
companies. Cafesjian got a hold of the Cascade property in Yerevan at
a pretty good price with some backing by former RA President Robert
Kocharyan. Later on, he also picked up `HayFilm’ cinemas studio, also
at a good price. After Kocharyan left office, the position of Bagrat
Sargsyan started to weakened, even though he really had no long-term
plans of staying in the TV business. Sargsayn was actually thinking of
moving to the United States, the country of his patron, Cafesjian.
Information as to the share percentages held by Cafesjian and Sargsyan
isn’t public. Rumor have been recently circulating that the shares of
Armenia TV have been sold off. We haven’t been able to verify this.
According to the law, information as to shareholder changes is
maintained and controlled by Armenia’s Central Depository and one can
only be granted information from that body if the shareholders
themselves agree. By law, it is the NCTR that should obtain such
information, especially since there is foreign capital involved.

`ArmNews’ TV Editorial Board

The company’s founder is `Cinemax’ Ltd. `Cinemax’, in turn, was
founded by `Hermes’ CJSC and `ArmNews’ CJSC. The owners and cofounders
of `Hermes’ are MP Harutyun Pambukyan (52.5%) and | `Investment
Worldwide Grew Route Town (47.5%), registered in the British Virgin
Islands. Companies register off-shore in an attempt to evade taxes and
the identity of shareholders. Yeras ago, Pambukyan’s `Midland
Resources Holding’ registerd in the British island of Guernsey,
transacted one of the largest energy deals ever in Armenia.

The stock owners of Arm News aren’t known. The founding capital of
ArmNews is 140,100,000 AMD and there are 14,100 stock issues. In other
words each share is worth 10,000 AMD. According to our information,
tere is foreign capital involved here as well, and it is most likely
that one of the shareholders is Gerard Cafesjian. It is not known the
extent to which Hermes and Cinemax have a stake in ArmNews.

This is the third of the above-mentioned companies having foreign
capital. Moreover, one of the shareholder companies is registered
off-shore. And since there are certain prohibitions when it comes to
the founders, then the NCTR is required by law to know who these
off-shore foreign shareholders are. Another interesting side bar to
this story is that ArmNews was granted a broadcast frequency
illegally, since at the time of the tender there was no such mass
media outlet registered. The bid was placed by `Cinemax’, using the
technical and photo resources of `ArmNews’

`TV 5³

TV 5 is a station that is owned by `TV 5³ CJSC. It remains the
property of Cafesjian and the Sargsyan family. There is foreign
capital here as well but the amount ids unknown

`E.V.’ TV or the illegal broadcast

The founder id `E.V.’. The station rebroadcasts CNN programming. The
founding capita is 42 million AMD. Registered in 1992.e were two
original owners:

1) Luisa Khachatryan (50% ` 21 million AMD)
2) Vanderblit Prop. Inc, USA, East Wisconsin 22550 (50% ` 21 million AMD)

It turns out that half of this corporation is foreign owned. In 2007,
Artyom Sargsyan, Bagrat Sargsyan’s father, obtained the shares of
Luisa Khachatryan. Let us again cite that point of the RA Law on TV
and Radio which says that at te time of the founding of TV station,
or afterwards, the extent of foreign capital participation must not be
equal to or exceed the operating capital employed by the broadcasting

In the case of EV TV this point has been violated from the start and
the NCTR has apparently nor noticed this infraction of the law.
Otherwise, it should have never allowed the company to participate in
the tender.

Nagorno Karabakh as a means to improve political image

Nagorno Karabakh as a means to improve political image
Sometimes the Karabakh issue is discussed by those who cannot even
show this state on the map.

Everyone is busy `regulating’ the Karabakh conflict, which, as we have
previously mentioned, was settled still back in 1994. Sometimes it
seems that every politician who has at least the slightest relation to
the South Caucasus, considers it his duty to voice his views on the
settlement of the conflict. The other day `exhibited himself’ Georgian
Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, who declared that the situation in
the South Caucasus may explode at any moment.

May 21, 2010

The Georgian diplomat believes that the region has a wonderful
experience of cooperation between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey,
implementing giant economic projects. `As an example can serve the two
working pipelines (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum); a
railway is being built, which will unite Georgia, Turkey and
Azerbaijan into a cohesive whole and will further link the Central
Asia with Europe. I do not mention the smaller projects. On the other
hand, the situation is very fragile as there are the occupied Georgian
territories: 20% of the Georgian land is occupied by Russia, 10% of
Georgian population have become refugees and forcedly displaced people
in their own homes. There is the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh, i.e. the
problem of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. There is also the
problem of unsettled relations between Turkey and Armenia. Any of
these problems may at any moment blow up the situation in the region,’
the Georgian Foreign Minister said. Strangely enough, the Minister
forgot about 20% of the territory of fraternal Azerbaijan and about
one million refugees. Or perhaps he considered it unimportant to
mention? But be that as it may, for rather a long time Georgia has
been shying from side to side, unable to decide with whom it is more
profitable: with the Islamic or with the Christian world.

The conflict also attracts any officials that visit Armenia and
Azerbaijan. Their statements have become an ordinary mantra:
territorial integrity, peaceful settlement and right of people to
self-determination. Sometimes the Karabakh issue is discussed by those
who cannot even show this state on the map. And even if they can, they
definitely confuse it with Azerbaijan. Along with all the questions
that were called forth by an article published in the Turkish
newspaper Hurriyet about the alleged surrender of two regions to
Azerbaijan, there was 1 most important question – `why especially
Lachin and Kelbajar?’ One might as well have mentioned Agdam and
Fizuli, or any two other regions… The second question is why Turkey
so consistently indulges the Baku agitprop, perfectly knowing that the
latter is wrong by default. Islamic solidarity cannot be observed
here; rather, political dividends are taken into account. And if
tomorrow for the sake of improving her political image Ankara would
have to support Armenia, she would do it without a second thought.

For now, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has issued a statement regarding
the anticipated parliamentary elections in the Republic of Artsakh.
`Official Ankara does not recognize the election to be held on May
23,’ the report says. Well, let it `not recognize’, so what? At long
last Baku will have to realize that the existence of NKR on the world
map does not at all depend on her recognizing or not recognizing this
republic. It is as unrealistic as the belief that one day Turkey may
become an OSCE Minsk Group co-chair. By the way, this is claimed not
by us, but by the Turkish side itself, which can hardly be counted
among the friends of Armenia. `Turkey will never become an OSCE Minsk
Group co-chair; it is just impossible. Armenia is opposed to it, and
consequently this issue is off the agenda. As for the statements of
the Turkish leadership on the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh, these are
simply political maneuvers, without which it is difficult to build up
one’s policy in the region,’ declared Mitat Celikpala, Associate
Professor of International Relations at the University of Economics
and Technology of Ankara (TOBB).

Karine Ter-Sahakyan / PanARMENIAN News

Artsakh President Met With Apryamov

11:20 21.05.10

On 20 May President of the Artsakh Republic Bako Sahakyan met
Lieutenant-General Enrico Apryamov, the First Deputy Head of the
General Staff of Armed forces of the Republic of Armenia.

Sahakyan and Apryamov discussed issues related to army building and
cooperation between the two Armenian states.

Artsakh Republic defense minister Movses Hakobyan also took part in
the talks.

O. Simons: EU Ready To Support Settlement Of Conflicts In The Caucas

16:50 21/05/2010


It’s obvious that the non-regulated issues in the Caucasus are a
serious obstacle in ensuring stability and prosperity in the region
and the current status-quo is unacceptable and not perpetual,"
Charge d’Affaires of the European Commission delegation to Armenia,
Onno Simons told reporters Friday.

According to O. Simons, status-quo is unacceptable as there is a
possibility of war and escalation of tension. He called on the sides to
actively get involved into the peace establishing processes worldwide.

Simons highlighted that Georgian-Ossetian war clearly showed that
non-regulated conflicts have negative impact on the EU security and
the close borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as Armenia
and Turkey seriously impede to the regional development.

"As you know, EU is not directly involved in the negotiating process
within the OSCE Minsk Group framework, nevertheless, the EU has
expanded its presence in the region and this assumes a more serious
role in the settlement of the conflict," Simons said.

"More than ever, EU is ready to support the negotiating process within
the OSCE Minsk Group framework," he said.

Simons highlighted that EU is closely watching the Armenian-Turkish
normalization dynamics and they hope the protocols will be ratified.

Armenia Holds A Series Of Events To Mark Van Resistance 95th Anniver


May 21, 2010 – 15:46 AMT 10:46 GMT

A series of events are held in Armenia to mark the 95th anniversary
of Van resistance.

The events started in April, when the Folk Art Museum hosted an event
titled "We lost Van, but not its culture".

"Trees will be planted in Vaspuranak Park in Yerevan on May 22
morning," chairman of Vaspurakan compatriotic union Gagik Baghdasaryan
said. "On the same day, a meeting will be held in Arno Babajanyan
concert hall, bringing together representatives of various political
parties. In early June, Shkhonts Mihran performance will be staged
in Hamazgayin Theater."

Dear Mr. Hamilton:

Dear Mr. Hamilton:

The Armenian Reporter
May 20, 2010

Mr. Lee Hamilton


Woodrow Wilson Center

Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Hamilton:

I am writing this letter as an American of Armenian decent. This
great country, USA, is the only source of hope and aspiration to
all those people that have been undermined in their national and
historic context.

Armenia/Armenians is one of those unfortunate people that were
subjected to the first recorded genocide during 1915-1918 by the
Ottoman Empire of Turkey. Yet to this date, inspite of the fact
that twenty countries of the world and forty States in the USA have
acknowledged the undeniable fact of the Armenian genocide, the Republic
of Turkey denies it unconscionably.

One would think that, any civilized country or society will be eager
to atone for past tragedies and atrocities committed by their country
in order to move forward to a brighter world order. But, Turkey, for
reasons that defy any good judgment, has denied their transgression
towards the Armenians for over ninety-five years.

Perhaps countries that encourage Turkey in their stubborn "policy
of denial" of the Armenian genocide are equally responsible for
suppressing the truth. One may wonder what the world would be like
today if Germany vehemently and persistently denied the Jewish
Holocaust. The consequences would be unthinkable. Accepting past
wrongs will only brighten the future for all concerned.

Nevertheless, your esteemed institution, The Woodrow Wilson Center,
has decided to honor Mr. Davutoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey,
with the much coveted WWC Public Service Award.

This inspite of: 1) Turkey’s continued policy to keep their borders
closed with Armenia, to economically strangle and starve the people
of Armenia;

2) Turkey’s recent threats that they may expel the 1000,000 Armenian
workers presently in Turkey;

3) Turkey’s ongoing threats that they will inflict massive irreversible
economic damage to any and all countries that formally acknowledge
the Armenian genocide, including the USA, its economic source;

4) Turkey’s continued tarnished record on Human Rights issues; and,

5) Turkey’s continued oppressive occupation of Cyprus.

If all these facts can filter WWC’s scrutiny with a favorable
deposition for a Public Service Award to Mr. Davutoglu, one wonders
about the bench mark of your criteria for qualification. Do you
truly think, even for a moment, that this person and the country it
represents today are on par with WWC’s past recipients of the coveted
Public Service Award?

Or, is this a political strategy, by those supporting this award, to
encourage Turkey that their current policies are both acceptable and
worthy of reward. If so, it is noting less than a shortsighted and
bankrupt strategy, as it thrives to punish the weak and unfortunate
by exalting the evil and powerful.

Why would otherwise WWC, acting in the name of President Woodrow
Wilson the champion of the Armenian people in the aftermath of the
Armenian genocide (1915-1918), act in this manner?

Please explain Mr. Hamilton so that we can understand and support
your prestigious institution.

Thank you.

Steve Tashjian

Former State Minister

Republic of Armenia

Ban Ki-Moon: Armenia-Turkey Normalization Important For Regional Sta

20.05.2010 17:43

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that positive
relations between Turkey and Armenia would be in the interest of the
region and bring stability.

Commenting on the recent developments in relations between Turkey and
Armenia, the Secretary General said the protocols, aiming at boosting
relations, were a "landmark" in relations.

Ban Ki-moon said he knew there was a long-lasting historical matter
between the two countries, noting that, "However, positive and
harmonized relations between Turkey and Armenia, being two important
countries of the same region, would be extremely important both for
stability and peace in the region and for the cooperation of the
peoples of the two countries."

Opening ceremony at Maternity Ward in St. Astvatsamayr Medical Cente

Hayastan All-Armenian Fund
Governmental Buiding 3, Yerevan, RA
Contact: Hasmik Grigoryan
Tel: +(3741) 56 01 06 ext. 105
Fax: +(3741) 52 15 05
E-mail: [email protected]

20 May, 2010

Opening ceremony at Maternity Ward in St. Astvatsamayr Medical Center

Yerevan, May 13, 2010 – The Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s annual Board of
Trustees meeting on May 14 was preceded by a string of noteworthy
accomplishments, celebrated by the opening ceremonies of five different

The events, which took place in Armenia and Artsakh, culminated symbolically
in the inauguration of the renovated Maternity Ward at Yerevan’s
St.Astvatsamayr Medical Center on May 12. All five opening ceremonies were
attended by the fund’s trustees and scores of affiliate representatives, who
had traveled to Yerevan from throughout the world for the 19th annual Board

At the opening ceremony of the Maternity Ward, the honor of cutting the red
ribbon was given to chairperson Armineh Carapeti, chair of the fund’s
British affiliate, which had financed the reconstruction of the medical
facility. The jubilant occasion was attended by Republic of Armenia Health
Minister Harutyun Kushkyan, Yerevan Mayor Gagik Beglaryan, Hayastan
All-Armenian Fund Executive Director Ara Vardanyan, and numerous other

The official opening of the refurbished Maternity Ward, located in the
densely populated Southwestern district of Yerevan, marked the conclusion of
an extensive reconstruction effort, which the fund implemented in two phases
during the past two years. The project comprised the complete renovation of
some 1,300 square meters on the second and third floors, including upgrades
to the electrical and air-conditioning systems with the latest technologies,
and installation of new water pipes, and extensive internal renovation.
These far-reaching improvements have resulted in a thoroughly modern, fully
equipped maternity ward capable of providing optimal care to mothers and
newborns alike, in a comfortable, pleasant, and nurturing environment.

"The future of our nation depends, first and foremost, on the physical
well-being of our people," Ms.Carapeti pointed said. Her conviction is
shared by hundreds of British-Armenian donors who have contributed to the
St.Astvatsamayr Medical Center Maternity Ward project. Major benefactors of
the initiative include Anahid Association of London, which has financed the
renovation of three delivery rooms, and the Demirdjian family, whose
contribution in memory of Hrayr Demirdjian has made possible the
modernization of the surgery. Other benefactors include the St. Sarkis
Church Ladies’ Committee and the Tahta family.

Commenting on his impressions of the opening ceremony and the project as a
whole, Ara Vardanyan said, "The joyous faces of physicians, nurses, new
mothers, and every single guest at the inauguration are the most eloquent
testament to the success of the initiative."

On his part, Armen Grigoryan, director of the Obstetrics Unit at
St.Astvatsamayr, said that the Maternity Ward’s vastly enhanced capabilities
will result in a considerable rise in the number of deliveries at the
facility. Prior to the renovations, the ward’s technical shortcomings meant
that it had to limit the number of its deliveries to 1,400 per year, with
numerous expectant mothers redirected to other hospitals for lack of
appropriate wards. Today six deliveries can be accommodated at any one given

"Now that we have state-of-the-art surgical and delivery equipment, and our
renovated facility ensures every conceivable comfort and convenience,
including lavatories in all patient rooms, we are able to provide medical
care of the highest quality," said Jenni Hovsepyan, director of the
Maternity Ward.

The Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s British affiliate continues to rally the
British-Armenian community around critically important projects in Armenia
and Artsakh. It was announced that the next major initiative to be sponsored
by the affiliate which is the reconstruction of the Kapan Pediatric
Hospital, in Armenia’s Syunik Region, has already commenced.

# # #
Hayastan All Armenian Fund

Alex Grig Was Fined 2.5b Dram For Dishonest Competition


By a May 19 session ruling the State Commission for Protection of
Economic Competition of the Republic of Armenia imposed the heaviest
possible fine on Alex Grig company for having competed dishonestly
in the market of alcoholic drinks.

A monitoring conducted by the commission’s specialists has revealed
that the trademarks of several vodkas disstilled by Alex Grig are
confusingly similar to some British and Ukrainian trademarks. The
specialists say that in all those cases they may draw the consumers
into confusion which is a display of dishonest competition and is
forbidden by "Law about the Protection of Economic Competition of
the Republic of Armenia."

The total amount of the fines imposed on Alex Grig is 2.5billion AMD.

At the same time the Commission instructed the Alex Grig to provide
it during a ten-day period with information certifiying that the
company has paid all the fines, as well as to stop and exclude any
further realization of those vodkas.

President of the State Commission for Protection of Economic
Competition of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Shaboyan, said it was
the highest possible fine defined by the law, adding that it was
still not enough for such a case of dishonest competition.

Lernik Hovhannisyan, the lawyer of Alex Grig, complained of the
working style of the Commission, saying that he was not even given
a chance to present explanations to the commission before it would
decide to impose the fine.

Saying that Alex Grig does not agree with the Commission’s decision,
Hovhannisyan mentioned that the Company would appeal it. He also said
it was up to the management of the Alex Grig to decide how to do it.

Haigazian University Board of Trustees Annual Meeting Held in Beirut

Haigazian University
Mira Yardemian
Public Relations Director
Mexique Street, Kantari, Beirut
Email: [email protected]

Beirut, May 17, 2010 – From April 30 to May 1, the Haigazian University
Board of Trustees, coming together from the United States and Lebanon,
conducted their annual meeting in Beirut, which this year coincided with
the grand inauguration ceremony of the new Heritage Building as a
valuable addition to the university campus.

During the intensive two days meetings, the Board listened to reports
presented by the President, the deans and department heads. Many issues
were discussed, such as continuous fundraising for the major capital
projects including the new heritage building, the restructuring of the
Board committees and sub-committees, in addition to the budget. In terms
of steps towards academic development, the Board decided to boost and
support University research and publications.

A day prior to the meetings, the members, most of them accompanied by
their spouses, were able to witness the fruition of three years of hard
work in the grand inauguration ceremony of the new Heritage Building of
the University. The inauguration was under the high patronage of Prime
Minister Saad Hariri, represented by the Minister of Culture Mr. Selim
Warde. The event also featured the unveiling of the plaque that revealed
Sirpuhe Philibosian Conte Hall as the name of the multipurpose hall.

Following the ceremony, University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian
hosted a dinner for board members and friends at the Golden Tulip
Serenada Hotel in Hamra and on this special occasion the special
recognition was made of Mr. Herair Mouradian for his long years of
service and dedication as member and former chairman of the board.

The newly appointed Executive Director of the Armenian Missionary
Association of America (AMAA) Mr. Levon Filian spoke of the mission of
Haigazian University which upholds the academic, personal, national and
spiritual aspects of education.

The Armenian Ambassador to Lebanon, H.E. Mr. Ashod Kocharian,
highlighted the continued cooperation between Haigazian University and
various universities in Armenia. He also expressed his heartfelt
congratulations and offered an art book as a gesture of his appreciation
to President Haidostian.

The US Ambassador to Lebanon, Ms. Michele Sison, shared her fondness for
Haigazian University and proclaimed its efforts "truly worthy of
admiration." Emphasizing on the liberal arts education which promotes
training of the mind, Sison praised Haigazian University as a place of
"nurture and care."

In his turn, President Haidostian thanked the board for their dedication
and focused on the multidimensional identity of Haigazian University. He
expressed his pride at the university’s goal of cultivating people in
general, and supporting the Armenians in the Diaspora and the Lebanese
community in particular. He also stressed on the university’s values and
its Christian vocation to serve people of all backgrounds and

The board members and their spouses also had the chance to enjoy an
outing and visit the statue of St. Mary in Harissa. The outing concluded
with a wonderful dinner at the new high end Lebanese restaurant Babel.