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Armenia's Public TV Company Responds to Missing Catholicos' Address on New Year's Eve Broadcast

Armenian Public Television Company Responds to Controversy Over Missing Catholicos' Address on New Year's Eve Broadcast

Armenia’s Public Television Company has issued a response to the significant event that occurred on New Year’s Eve, which marked the first time the planned broadcast of His Eminence, the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, did not air on television.

Scheduled for December 31, the Public Television Company had intended to air His Eminence's address in a segment reserved for official speeches. According to tradition, the Catholicos' speech follows that of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, as per the country's Constitution.

However, a discrepancy arose when Father Vahram Melikyan, representing the Mother See, conveyed to the Council of the Public Broadcaster their disagreement with the scheduled timing for the messages. They demanded the withholding of the Catholicos' message video, citing its copyright belonging to the Mother See. Consequently, the "Shogakat" TV channel under the Council and the Public Radio broadcasted the message. Meanwhile, the oral request regarding the Public TV Company's airing was acknowledged. Armenia currently lacks legislative regulation governing the broadcasting of New Year's messages, allowing each TV station autonomy in determining when and in what order to air the messages.

The Council of Public Broadcaster of Armenia expressed regret over the incident and proposed resolving the issue in the legislative field to address the broad public response without affecting the cooperation between the Public and Mother See.

The exclusion of the Catholicos' annual message caused disruption to a long-standing tradition in Armenia. The unexpected exclusion led to a heated debate between religious and governmental entities. Traditionally, the address by the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church is broadcasted moments before the country's leader delivers their New Year's Eve speech, tracing back through the nation's history of independence. 

In response to this unprecedented change, the Mother See expressed disappointment over the lack of prior notice and dismissed speculations, directing inquiries about the decision to the Public Television Company.

The controversy sparked allegations from pro-government circles, suggesting an ultimatum was issued by the Catholicos, a claim refuted by credible sources. Public figures, including Roman Baghdasaryan and former Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia, Arman Tatoyan, condemned the exclusion. Tatoyan criticized the decision as a politically motivated move orchestrated by higher authorities, emphasizing the historical significance of the Patriarch's message and the vital role of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church in the nation's history and identity.


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