For more than 20 years Horizon Armenian Television has played a pivotal role in the lives of Armenian-Americans in Southern California. As with any medium, it is an evolving process, while remaining a mainstay in people’s homes and lives. Recently Asbarez discussed Horizon’s evolution and future plans with Armenian Media Network Business Manager Vicken Sosikian. Horizon is a subsidiary of AMN.
Asbarez: In a sentence of two, can you provide a brief overview of Horizon Television?
VICKEN SOSIKIAN: Since 1989 Horizon TV has been the bridge between everything Armenian and the Armenian people in the western United States. From its news and analysis, to its cultural and religious programs, to its music and entertainment, to its documentaries and educational shows; Horizon TV is the leading source of timely and relevant information as it pertains to our culture, politics, religion and education. Today, an estimated 100,000 people tune in to Horizon on Charter Cable channel 285 and online at www.HorizonArmenianTV.com – these figures can be substantiated by information provided by Charter Cable and our website hosting company.
Asabrez: How, specifically, does Horizon TV provide ‘timely and relevant’ information?
V.S.:Here I can provide short descriptions of about a dozen or so programs featured on Horizon TV. But I’d rather share with you the role Horizon plays in the Armenian reality.
When the California State Assembly discussed the Armenian Genocide our reporters were in Sacramento bringing you in depth coverage. When little Narek Movsesyan and his mother arrived in the US for Narek’s cancer treatment Horizon was there to convey community leaders’ and organizations’ call for help. When Turkey and Armenia initiated their protocols Horizon presented the facts and relayed community organizations’ call to action. When the White House placed Armenia on the list among other ‘terrorist countries’ ANCA hit the Horizon airwaves and tens of thousands of letters flooded the White House fax machines – in a matter of days Armenia was rightfully removed from that list. When Armenians around the world recently commemorated the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Horizon was on air live for 12 hours connecting its viewers to the activities held in more than two dozen Armenian communities in the Diaspora and the Homeland.
When the AYF hits the street to protest the closure of a local health clinic or to clean up the communities in which we live and work – Horizon is there. When the Armenian Relief Society launches campaigns to aid the Armenians of Javakhk -Horizon is there. When our churches work to spread their spiritual message to the masses Horizon is there. When the Armenian Chamber of Commerce honors Armenian business owners Horizon is there. When Davidian-Mariamian Educational Foundation adds more Armenian classes in public schools Horizon is there. Horizon is always there to serve the Armenian community by providing timely and relevant information.
I can go on for quite some time.
Really, Horizon TV is the bridge between everything Armenian and the Armenian people; and our various programs are a reflection of just that.
Asbarez: You mentioned that Horizon can be watched on television through Charter Cable. Is Charter Cable the only cable company through which we can tune in to Horizon?
V.S.: Currently yes. However, we are working on expanding our coverage areas as we speak. Our immediate focus is on Time Warner Cable. There are tens of thousands of Armenian households within the Time Warner Cable jurisdiction. The areas of Hollywood, Tujunga, Sunland, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Encino, Northridge, Reseda, Canoga Park, Valley Village, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Chatsworth, Valley Glen, and parts of the South Bay, Santa Clarita, and Orange County are all served by Time Warner Cable.
It is just not financially sustainable for Horizon TV to lease out a channel on Time Warner Cable. There is, however, the option of offering Horizon TV as a paid subscription-type option; where those who desire watching Horizon TV pay a monthly nominal fee. Surprisingly, this is also not something Time Warner Cable readily offers to any TV station. In essence, they want to make sure that the inclusion of any given TV station in their programming lineup is going to generate a certain amount of revenue for them. Given that Time Warner Cable is not very familiar with Horizon TV’s history and popularity among the Armenian community; the burden falls on us to show Time Warner Cable that the inclusion of Horizon TV in their programming lineup would indeed garner interest and corresponding subscriptions from Time Warner Cable customers.
Asbarez: How do you plan on going about this?
V.S.: To convey this message to the decision makers at Time Warner Cable, Horizon TV has launched a signature drive; where interested individuals within the Time Warner Cable jurisdiction can express their interest in subscribing to Horizon TV through Time Warner Cable. Those interested in adding their name to the signature drive can contact their local Armenian community center for the necessary form, refer to clip-out signature forms in Asbarez, complete an online webfax through Asbarez.com and HorizonArmenianTV.com or join this efforts’ “Cause” on Facebook.
Our long term expansion plans include the inclusion of Horizon TV on Dish Network, Direct TV, AT&T’s U-verse and on free-to-air satellite across North America.
Asbaerz: You mentioned Facebook, is Horizon TV really on Facebook?
V.S.: Most definitely! There is a constant evolution in the world of television. More and more people, especially the young professional demographic, turn to the internet to keep in touch, stay up to date with the news, and now, even to watch TV. The flexibility and cost-effectiveness afforded by the internet is drawing more and more people away from the conventional TV set and on to cyber-space.
So, in an effort to evolve with the evolution, we always keep up to date with the latest technologies to serve the needs of as many Armenians as possible. As such, yes we indeed have a Facebook page – where our visitors can watch various news clips right on Facebook. We also have a You Tube channel and a live stream of the complete Horizon TV program lineup on www.HorizonArmenianTV.com.
Asbarez: Media companies have suffered immensely during the recession, what was Horizon’s fate in this economic climate?
V.S.: Similar to nearly every company in the country, Horizon TV was also adversely affected by the recession. While our audience and ratings increased we still saw a decline in advertising revenue compared to two or three years ago. Therefore, like most businesses, we reduced our advertising prices to attract a larger quantity of advertisers. It’s really a great time to advertise, there are quite a few special deals available.
However, in the larger scheme of things Horizon TV is financially stable and the bottom line financial condition of our operations has, in fact, improved over the last year. This is all to credit of the dedicated Horizon TV staff and the work of the entire team at Armenian Media Network, the parent company of Horizon TV and Asbarez Newspaper.
Asbarez: Any closing thoughts?
V.S.: Recently we received a relatively significant donation in the mail from an anonymous Horizon viewer. Along with the donation the individual sent a hand-written note thanking us for our work. On the other hand, time to time, we also receive complaints from our viewers. We welcome both and are thankful for both. I interpret the simultaneous praise and criticism as motivation to continuously work to improve our service to our people.