Armenians Begin a New Era in Moscow
Armenians Begin a New Era in Moscow

Tuned In

TV Armenia Ru Now on Satellite for All Armenians

A new Armenian TV company broadcasting primarily in Russian has recently gone on air and is already popular among Armenians who receive the signal via satellite.

At the television's heart are a successful banker and a popular singer who conceived the idea of launching the first Armenian satellite TV in Russian only as recently as January. Less than three months later, on April 1 this year, Armen Kazarian and Tatevik Aghamirian (who married two years ago) saw their project get off the drawing board and on the air with a monthly budget that now amounts to $300,000, but will grow to some $500,000-600,000 in the coming months.

Kazarian, 57, known to many as singing banker K-Armen, and his 33-year-old wife Tatevik Aghamirian (a rock group vocalist and guitarist, and performer of her original compositions) were in a company of friends in the middle of January when they first floated the idea. In the next two and a half months, the couple was already sharing leadership and the burden of organizing things in the project as president and director general of the new television – TV Armenia Ru.

Both Kazarian and Aghamirian are large shareholders in the closely held joint-stock company. Among significant partners of the project are President of the Union of Armenians of Russia Ara Abrahamian, Ambassador of Armenia to Russia Oleg Yesayan, and others.

Kazarian says that the shareholders fund of $2 million has been almost entirely invested in the project and the company plans to tender additional shares, hoping that Armenian businessmen will invest more in the company, as producing high-quality programming is a costly endeavor. The company's president hopes that within a couple of years, the TV company will be able to sustain itself through commercial advertising and will also be making a profit.

Kazarian, a native of Leninakan (now Gyumri), was the founder of the Anelik money transfer system, a revolutionary enterprise for the Armenian market in the mid-1990s, which is now popular in many countries. He says he likes all things that are "first" and TV Armenia Ru is also the first of its kind as an Armenian TV channel for the Russian-speaking Armenian Diaspora.

"Attempts to create such a channel for the large Russian-speaking Diaspora have been made over the past 10 years, but those projects failed for different reasons," says Kazarian. "We asked ourselves: Why can't the Armenians of Russia have one satellite channel, while in America they have several? Do we not exist? Of course we do."

Kazarian, president of the board of commercial bank Anelik Ru, says it took only a few days to draft a business plan and present it to Armenian businessmen and less than two weeks to open a website ( with all information about the project.

"And within two and a half months we already went on the air," adds the energetic entrepreneur, proud of his achievement.

(People in the TV business say it is unusual for a company of that scale to launch within such a short term. Others including those broadcasting via satellite have taken several months or a few years to get on the air.)

Viewers tune in to TV Armenia Ru via a satellite dish, Hot Bird 13°. The channel is free and covers all of Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East.

TV Armenia Ru Director General Aghamirian, a native of Yerevan, says that because Hot Bird satellite dishes already exist in the homes of Armenians in Europe and Russia, they have a ready-made audience base that they hope will expand, especially among Armenians in Armenia. Programming from the Diaspora and about the Diaspora, she says, should appeal to Armenian audiences as there is practically no family in Armenia that doesn't have family or friends in Russia.

Aghamirian says the channel is "a 100 percent classical channel" that will broadcast news, entertainment, music and children's programs. About 90 percent of programming is in Russian, with a small bit in Armenian.

"And those (in Armenian) are programs of an educational nature, such as ‘We Learn the Armenian Language,' children's programs and programs for adults educating them on language, culture, etc. We've also designed a newscast in Armenian," says Aghamirian.

According to Agha­­mirian, however, what makes the channel different from others of this type is that it is not only the first such channel in Russia, but also the first channel for the whole of the Diaspora.

"We've set ourselves a grandiose task of becoming an information hub and distributor of information from all continents of the world, from anywhere where there is even a small Armenian community," she says.

The channel's producers also promise interactive TV.

"We've announced a contest of mobile reporters and any person can shoot on his or her mobile phone any significant or interesting event. The goal is that all Armenians should feel attracted, involved in the big design. We offer an opportunity to Armenians to link all their interests, dreams, aspirations in one web," says TV Armenia Ru's director general.

Besides reporting on the communities, the main directions of the channel include covering the role of the Church and religion/faith, the role of embassies in different countries, and the notion of statehood in the Diaspora.

"We will try not to use sensationalism as a weapon to attract audiences. Rather, we will seek to be an objective mirror for the communities and events happening in the Diaspora," says Aghamirian.

TV Armenia Ru employed a staff of about 30 when it was launched, but its president says that they will increase it to up to 100 within a few months.

"First of all, we try to employ (ethnic) Armenians. It's not only our patriotism, but also that the subject of the Diaspora and Armenia is closer to Armenians than to Russians. But experience shows that in technical issues Armenians here are less professional, while our modern equipment requires high professionalism to handle," says Kazarian.

And the channel's director general adds that they've been inundated with applications from TV people, including many well-known Armenian professionals, responding to their job openings announcement on the website.

"Many write that they get a higher salary in a Russian company, but want to be on the Armenian channel," says Aghamirian, adding that TV journalists from Armenia will also have something to learn from them.

"We are developing contacts with all large and small companies. Many Armenian channels have agreed to barter information, video materials and programs with us. Also, we have plans to open a TV school," she says.

In a world where the Internet is gradually becoming the number-one medium, all TV companies also have to think of online products. And TV Armenia Ru is not an exception.

"We will also have an online version and the TV programs will be on the Internet the next day. Internet will also have an autonomous life, featuring forums, chats, online discussions with TV guests, etc.," says the TV's director general.

The TV channel also hopes that the Russian state will support their initiative of the Diaspora television.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently spoke in favor of supporting national TVs in multinational Russia and voiced support for cultural diversity. In particular, national channels have been allowed access to Russia's NTV+ satellite, with a symbolic fee of 50 rubles, less than $2 per month.

Another project that Aghamirian hopes will be of interest to Armenians worldwide is "Armenian Karaoke Live." It is the largest collection of original soundtracks with text supplied by the use of three alphabets—Armenian, Cyrillic (for Russian-speaking Armenians) and transliteration (for Armenians living in the West)—for those Armenians who do not read in Armenian but would like to join in singing.

Aghamirian, the general producer of this project, hopes it will prove popular with the Armenian Diaspora around the world.

"This is a unique thing and is likely to remain unmatched for many years to come," she says.

The collection will have about 3,000 songs. More than 500 are already available on the project's website ( Work on other songs is still in progress. Anyone can hear the karaoke online free of charge or download tracks for a small fee. The songs range from folk to classical, pop, jazz, children's songs, etc.

Aghamirian says the karaoke is supplied with original video footage as special shootings of sights and landmarks have been organized in Armenia.

Originally published in the May 2010 ​issue of AGBU Magazine. Archived content may appear distorted on your screen. end character

About the AGBU Magazine

AGBU Magazine is one of the most widely circulated English language Armenian magazines in the world, available in print and digital format. Each issue delivers insights and perspective on subjects and themes relating to the Armenian world, accompanied by original photography, exclusive high-profile interviews, fun facts and more.