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MEDIA
February 18, 2011
Gyumri Deadlock: GALA TV Was Deprived Also Of the Right to Use the Tower
By Nune Arevshatyan
For JNews.am
image source: www.asparez.am
GALA's antenna will be removed from this tower

Broadcasting on GALA TV can be stopped merely because the antenna belonging to the TV Company should be dismantled off the television tower within a month by the court decision.

On February 17, such decision was reached by the First Instance Court of the Shirak region, thus putting a full stop to a two-year protracted trial of joint cases of Gyumri Municipality against 'Chap' LLC - owner of GALA TV - and 'Chap' LLC against the Municipality.

The topic of dispute was the TV tower of Gyumri located in 6/1 Vazgen Sargsyan Str. For a long time it was abandoned, but in 2007 was privatized by the Gyumri Municipality, which required to remove all the GALA-owned equipment from the tower.

After hearing the case for two years, with long-term breaks, Judge Shirak Hakobyan read the verdict satisfying only the claim of the Gyumri Municipality. "To force the TV Company to dismantle the 'Chap' LLC owned transmitter antenna and cable placed on the top of the tower located in 6/1 Vazgen Sargsyan Str. within a month," says the judge verdict.

TV and Radio broadcasts of Leninakan city were broadcasted from the 54 meters high tower until 1977. Then it almost stopped functioning, because a 185-meter high tower was installed. After minor repairs GALA TV has been using the tower since August 2005.

According to owner of GALA TV Vahan Khachatryan, this is another attempt to deprive GALA of air, and this time the mayor of Gyumri has been used as a "tool". By the way, Mayor Vardan Ghukasyan abruptly refused to grant the tower on lease to the television company.

In 2008 he sued GALA claiming to release the tower. And even though the Court of First Instance of the Shirak region satisfied the mayor's claim, after a short time the case reached the Court of Cassation, which dismissed it sending back again to the Court of First Instance of the Shirak region. The Court of Cassation found that it has been violated the principle of equality of the parties, i.e. the court has deprived GALA's lawyer Karen Tumanyan of the opportunity to present evidence.

This time, the composition of the court was changed and the case was given to Judge Shirak Hakobyan. The latter had to hear also the TV's claim against the Gyumri Municipality.

GALA's lawyer Karen Tumanyan required to set up free compulsory usage of the TV tower of public importance, where GALA's antenna was placed. According to the lawyer in this case the Municipality was obliged to satisfy the public right to get information.

The tower twice has been subjected to forensic and technical expertise. Once there was an answer that has not actually answered the question of any side. Another time there was a conclusion reporting that ‘Chap’ LLC has not an altenative place of broadcasting in that territory to exploit channel 33 and at least a similar tower should be built to provide its broadcasting.

‘Chap’ LLC owner Vahan Khachatryan, in his statement, condemning Judge Hakobyan’s decision, specifically says: “Shirak Hakobyan issued a verdict, which once again confirmed that the government campaign against independent media continues to become more terrible. And the prehistory of this case, its long-term delays, retardations once again proved that the authorities aimed simply to win time and to quiet GALA TV on time. We consider it necessary to inform that this decision of the court is obviously biased and illegal, so we will continue our struggle for the protection of free speech and of our constitutional right to provide the public with unbiased information.”

Last year GALA participated in the digital TV broadcast licensing competition and lost it against its rival Tsayg TV that had applied for the same frequency. However, the license which GALA received for analogue broadcasting, affords the company an opportunity to be broadcasted in Gyumri until January 1, 2015, of course, if during this period ‘Chap’ LLC is able to find another tower to install its broadcasting antenna.

Source:  JNews.am 



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