GLENDALE—Chanting slogans like “Charter drops Horizon, we drop Charter,” and “Charter Lies,” hundreds of concerned Armenian-Americans gathered at the Charter Communications Glendale offices on Saturday to protest the company’s arbitrary decision to drop Horizon Armenian Television from its channel line up.
The Saturday protest was the third one being held since the announcement about Horizon’s suspension was made last week.
Speaking on behalf of Horizon Television, Asbarez English Editor Ara Khachatourian explained that Charter has engaged in a systematic policy of deceiving its customers by erroneously telling them that an agreement was not reached with Horizon.
“That is a lie,” said Khachatourian, whose explanations further angered the protesters.
Khachatourian also thanked the community for expressions of support pouring in during Horizon’s daily live broadcasts, phone calls to Horizon offices and those who have signed the online and other petitions.
“If Charter does not reconsider its decision, then we will take this matter to court and have the legal systems decide that Charter cannot stifle the voice of the people,” said Khachatourian.
Stepan Keshishian, the Executive Director of the Armenian Youth Federation, also spoke to the protesters, presenting them the history of Charter’s decision to eliminate Horizon from its lineup.
He also stressed that by yanking Horizon off the air, Charter was doing a disservice to the community and stifling its voice.
AYF Chairman Avo Shanlian, attempted to enter the offices to discuss the matter with Charter representatives. Security guards posted at the entrance did not allow him to enter to present the concerns of the community to Charter leadership.
Earlier this month, the management of Horizon Armenian Television was notified by Charter Communications that the channel that has been serving the Armenian community for more than two decades would be yanked off the Charter lineup effective February 19, despite the fact that Horizon signed and delivered a contract for 2013.
Deeming this action by Charter as nothing short of bullying a non-profit organization, which is dedicated to service and betterment of the community, the Save Horizon TV Task Force has initiated an online and print petition drive that has been met with overwhelming support by the community. In a matter of days there are thousands of responses to the online petition, which is directed to Charter Communications regional management and the Federal Communications Commission. The paper petition, which was circulated at various community events since Saturday, has also received thousands of signatures.
“Charter is acting in bad faith and violating the principles of a good corporate citizen by ignoring the needs of the community and being insensitive to the customers they serve,” said Zanku Armenian a spokesperson for the Save Horizon TV Task Force. “As a franchisee in Glendale, Burbank and La Crescenta, Charter serves at the pleasure of the citizens of these cities and with their callous actions they are demonstrating they don’t care about their customers.”
Armenian-Americans comprise more than 40 percent of the population in Glendale and La Crescenta and 35 percent of the total population in Burbank—the area covered by Charter Communications that carries Horizon Armenian Television.
Horizon Television was the first Armenian-language channel to become part of the Charter lineup with a 24-hour channel in 1999 and was chosen by the corporation because of its deep roots and its demonstrated service to the community. Horizon Television debuted in May of 1989 with a mission to inform and serve the Armenian-American community. In a short time, Horizon became a broadcast outlet for news and information and evolved into a true voice for the ever-expanding Armenian community. In 1999, Horizon expanded its programming to become the first 24-hour television channel in the Armenian community and since then, by partnering with organizations and businesses alike, it has provided groundbreaking coverage of all things Armenian for its viewers. Horizon is the Armenian language equivalent of the non-profit PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) network on mainstream television.