YEREVAN, September 6. /ARKA/. Armenia is to kick off a new TV season in the second half of September. While the TV companies are preparing new products and speculating over which content may be most popular among people, Tigran Safaryan, director of TELEMEDIACONTROL company, and Manana Aslamazyan, head of Internews’ “Alternative Resources in the Media” project, shared with journalists their viewpoints on the current quality and further perspectives of the Armenian media space.
Bread and Circuses
Abnormally high ratings of soap operas on Armenian TV channels speak about the low level of media management in Armenia. About 40% of Armenia’s population watches soap operas, Novosti-Armenia News Agency quoted Tigran Safaryan.
“Over the last three years, soap operas have been in the top ten popular programs of Armenia. Some 500,000 people watch the most popular soap opera every day. As a specialist, I think it is not so normal,” he said Wednesday in Novosti International Press Center.
He noted that on some TV channels, soap operas occupy 30% of airtime.
Manana Aslamazyan, on her side, said the reason of this “decline of morality” is too many TV channels in Armenia and low level management.
According to her, the TV market of Armenia is “a little bit wry,” as the country doesn’t almost have media companies representing business projects, and there are many non-market factors impacting the media development.
“That is why we have such TV broadcasting quality. But people have to watch this, since nothing else is shown. That is why 500,000 people watch a soap opera. This is crazy and not normal. It is not good for the society, and education,” she said adding that the Russian TV situation is also deplorable, and the airtime is occupied by criminal soap operas which also provide very high ratings.
The expert said that many media outlet owners in Armenia use their media recourses for their own purposes to gain the political weight.
In this case we need educated and ambitious managers who can find a compromise with the owners and design a high-quality broadcast.
However, according to her, there are not many people in Armenia who have a good manager skills to “make a good TV.”
Ratings are very important but not the only criterion in defining the content of the TV channels, the experts said.
“People grabs” concept is unacceptable. Chasing ratings is an evidence of a very low literacy level among media managers. Media has an additional social function, and the real educated media managers must realize their responsibility to the audience,” Aslamazyan said.
Aslamazyan strongly disagreed with the fact that the State should control any media sector, adding that self-control must be the main tool here.
“If media in Armenia was business, the market mechanisms would work here: it wouldn’t be profitable to produce a low content, as no one would watch you, wouldn’t trust you,” she said referring to the necessity to make censorship on the Armenian TV stricter.
TELEMEDIACONTROL Director, on his side, noted that the requests on improving the quality and censorship should come fr om the influential civil organizations, professional unions and associations, as it is practiced in the civilized states.
What is missing?
According to Aslamazyan, the Armenian TV has a lack of serious political talk shows. Such programs are very few as the Armenian politicians never express their viewpoint, “ and you will never know what they are really thinking about.”
“Moreover, there are very few journalists in Armenia who can ask some tough questions. You can count them on your fingers,” she said.
There is also a lack of our own, Armenian formats like Russia’s “What? Wh ere? When?” or KVN (Club of the Funny and Smart), serious analytical programs, political debate programs when people say what they think on TV. “We have such talk shows, but they are kind of too formatted,” she added.
“Also our TV workers often use foreign formats, adapt them, but the final content is very primitive,” Aslamazyan noted.
Tigran Safaryan, on his side, advised to the Armenian TV companies to think about producing or at least buying popular science programs, which actually can ensure not bad ratings.
In spite of the current drawbacks, the experts think that the new season will not be boring, as they see the growing popularity of reality show programs which can partially replace the soap operas.
“I hope that some tendencies, slightly reported last year, will continue. First of all, Internet and elections fostered this process,” Aslamazyan said adding that “election” money stimulated new programs.
“That’s why I expect this year to be full of new interesting programs. I think the new season will not be boring,” she clarified. -0-