(Prague, Czech Republic -- March 11, 2008) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has restored broadcasting on shortwave frequencies to Armenia to counter the government's blackout on independent news.
RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said today, "It is disappointing that because of restrictions imposed by the Armenian government we have to take this step backward to an outmoded frequency we stopped using in Armenia three years ago, but I'm happy to say it is working."
RFE/RL's Armenian Service reinstated broadcasting on two shortwave frequencies March 8, a week after its regular broadcasts on FM frequencies were taken off the air by its two local affiliates. The affiliates were complying with an emergency decree by President Kocharian that allows only government-sanctioned news to be aired. RFE/RL is the only Armenian language foreign radio in the country.
Broadcasts are now one hour daily on shortwave, instead of the previous three hours on local FM. But all programs can be heard on RFE/RL'S Armenian language website, armenialiberty.org
RFE/RL has added more news items to the website and is updating its content every hour of every day, to supplement the loss of local FM broadcasting. Statistics suggest the strategy is working. Listenership on RFE/RL's Internet sites for Armenia tripled in March, compared to a month ago.
Listeners are also finding other ways to hear uncensored RFE/RL news. The service is getting reports that Armenian bloggers are posting RFE/RL news on their sites and that RFE/RL news programs are being repackaged and posted on YouTube.