GLENDALE–A legal complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Friday against Charter Communication by attorneys representing Horizon Armenian Television’s parent company the Armenian Media Network challenging Charter’s decision to arbitrarily yank Horizon Television off its lineup in Glendale, Burbank and La Crescenta on February 19. A hearing is scheduled on Tuesday, February 19 at 8:30 a.m. at LA Superior Court.
The suit alleges that Charter is in breach of contract with Horizon, which on December 3 signed a contract for carriage in 2013, even agreeing to a 25 percent fee hike proposed to Charter. The latter, without any explanation, informed Horizon on January 10 that it had decided to discontinue Horizon from its lineup, and began informing customers of its decision, which also includes the addition of another Armenian channel to replace Horizon.
The complaint also emphasizes that Horizon viewers, and the community, will be underserved by Charter’s decision, given Horizon’s unparalleled record of election coverage. Since January, Horizon has played host to a number of candidates vying for office in the upcoming municipal elections in Glendale and Burbank and as part of its commitment to covering the elections, it plans to continue its programming to educate and empower Armenian voters to take part in the elections. Charter’s decision to discontinue carriage of Horizon will deprive the community of crucial information.
Charter’s decision has forced advertisers and producers to cancel contracts with Horizon Television, causing severe financial damage to Horizon, which has been serving and informing the Armenian community since 1988. An estimated 10 to 15 people will lose their jobs on Tuesday if Charter moves forward with its planned blackout of Horizon.
“Charter’s actions constitute an egregious breach of the binding agreement it has entered into with Horizon TV. Threats by Charter to remove Horizon TV from the air have caused a chilling effect upon fundamental rights of speech and political discourse,” said AMN counsel Raymond Aghaian of the law firm McKenna, Long and Aldridge.
“We intend to pursue every legal avenue to right this wrong and prevent Charter from perpetrating such injustice against Horizon TV and the Armenian American community,” added Aghaian.
“Charter gave us no choice but to seek a legal resolution to this matter,” said Avedik Izmirlian, chairman of the Armenian Media Network. “We are confident that the court will see that Charter’s unilateral and arbitrary decision has disrupted the Armenian community and Horizon’s ability to carry out its mission to serve and inform our community. We are certain that Charter’s efforts to stifle our community’s voice will not come to fruition.”
The community responded to Charter’s decision with anger and unequivocal support for Horizon, Thousands have signed online and paper petitions and hundreds protested Charter at three demonstrations in front of its offices in Glendale during the past two weeks.
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.