Losing any subscriber (no matter how much they pay) is always painful. And although almost always the reason for canceling the subscription is not due to the quality of our services, but to internal issues of the subscriber, something bitter always remains. But when this week I received a letter from Sarah Poissonnier from BBC Monitoring, informing me that due to the budget and editorial policy changes, they are forced to cancel their subscription to Mediamax, I had no bitterness. Moreover, I was proud that we have been the provider of one of the most important news services in the world for 23 (!!!) years.
When we founded Mediamax in 1999, it was a “classic” news agency. We were preparing news and analytical articles, selling them to local newspapers and TV stations, foreign embassies and international organizations, foreign media.
In 2000, my friend Arman Jilavyan, with who we worked together at Snark news agency, gave me the e-mail of Anne Thompson, director of the BBC Monitoring regional office in Baku. In the letter addressed to her I said that we were a newly opened news agency and wanted to present our products to them. A few months later, Anne signed a subscription contract with us.
BBC Monitoring was created before the age of the Internet and obtained news from all over the world, preparing various materials based on it. These materials were used not only by the BBC itself, but also by various British and foreign public and private institutions. Therefore, it was important for us to be a provider of BBC Monitoring not only for earning money, but also from the point of view of providing high-quality information from Armenia.
Naturally, BBC Monitoring subscribed also to other Armenian news agencies, but I can say without too much modesty that in the early 2000s, they took news about almost all important events from Mediamax.
In May 2000, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan sacked Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan and formed a new government headed by Andranik Margaryan. We were the first to tell the world the composition of the new government, and BBC Monitoring included Mediamax’s news in its news feed. Evil tongues claimed that the information was given to us earlier and that was the reason for our promptness. However, the reality was different: we had prepared the “skeleton” of the news in advance, in which we had included the names of all the ministries, and when the decree was published, all that remained was to fill in the names of the ministers and release the news. That simple!
BBC Monitoring has been our subscriber for 23 years, which is an exceptional record. When I wrote to Sarah Poissonnier about it, she said she had been with BBC Monitoring for “only” 14 years.
By the way, in the early 2000s, Mediamax was the only Armenian news agency that officially delivered news to the Turkish Anadolu state news agency. We contacted their office in Tbilisi, offered our services, and laid a foundation for cooperation that lasted for several years. In this case, the opportunity to provide reliable information was twice important.
Although Anne Thompson is no longer at BBC Monitoring, we remain good friends. Anne is from Wales and when the football teams of Armenia and Wales met in Yerevan in the 2000s, we went to the stadium together. Anne was enthusiastically cheering for her home team, and I tried not to notice the surprised looks of our compatriots. Those were good times!
Ara Tadevosyan is the Director of Mediamax.