"It is my privilege and my joy today to celebrate the official opening of this very special institution," Abp. Derderian said. "The opening of the US-Armenia television station will be a milestone in the life of this community, the Western Diocese, and Armenian communities through the West Coast."
The Primate and a group of clergy began the blessing service outside the main lobby of the four-story building at 2727 West Alameda. After hymns and prayers blessing the facilities of the new television station, Abp. Derderian spoke to those gathered and praised the efforts of Gerard L. Cafesjian for creating a new, professional media organization.
The mission of CS Media "has the blessing of the President of the Republic of Armenia and the blessings of His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians," Abp. Derderian said. He asked all those present "to become shareholders of the vision of this institution. This will be a blessing also for our community members," he added.
Attending the event were a delegation of clergy from the Western Diocese, Armenian community leaders from throughout Southern California, and staff members of the local Burbank operation. (This newspaper is affiliated with CS Media, and its Southern California office is located in the building that was blessed.)
The archbishop led a procession from the lobby to the second-level patio, where the Armenian tricolor and the Stars and Stripes have been flying with pride since US-Armenia TV launched its broadcasts less than a year ago.
"I'm tremendously thankful for the support that was extended to me from Mr. Bagrat Sargsyan," the archbishop said, referring to Mr. Cafesjian's partner in CS Media and the president of US-Armenia TV. "Mr. Sargsyan assured me that this institution will also serve the better interests of the faithful members of the Armenian Apostolic Church."
Gerard Cafesjian's message
In a note read to those attending, Mr. Cafesjian offered his heartfelt welcome and thanks to all those who came together to witness the blessing of US-Armenia TV.
"I gratefully acknowledge President Sargsian and His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, for their welcome and support," Mr. Cafesjian wrote.
He extended his sincere gratitude to Abp. Dederian for consecrating the creation of "yet another Armenian institution in service to our people and the causes we hold dear.
"All of us involved in CS Media are enormously proud that US-Armenia TV is the largest broadcasting platform of multilingual, Armenian entertainment, culture, and information," Mr. Cafesjian wrote. "I am with you in spirit on this day of reflection about the vital role that the broadcast media plays as a link between Armenia and the diaspora, the diaspora and Armenia, and among Armenians residing everywhere who are eager to learn about their compatriots everywhere else."
Mr. Cafesjian wrote that the CS Media family of Armenian-focused broadcast stations and print publications are the most-watched and most-read television programs and written products in the world. "It is gratifying to know that US-Armenia TV has made so much progress in so short a span of time.
"Bagrat and I are mindful of our special privilege and responsibility as managers of the source for our far-flung diaspora and our evolving and dynamic ancestral homeland," Mr. Cafesjian wrote.
"Bagrat and I assure you that the best is yet to come," concluded Mr. Cafesjian's note.
Importance of Armenian media
In an interview with the Armenian Reporter after the formal program, Abp. Derderian commended US-Armenia TV for its professional approach to media-content creation and broadcasting.
"We need to understand that for us to be able to survive in this community, in this world, in the United States of America, we should also compete with other institutions," Abp. Derderian said. "We can no longer be satisfied with the status quo. We need to advance. We need progress. We need to do what needs to be done to get the attention of our community members, especially our young people."
Abp. Derderian said that television is very important way to reach out to the entire community. Mr. Karapetian said this was the ideal time to embark on investing in 21st century media, because he said the ever-changing media landscape and information technologies will leave many behind if they are not utilized and exercised fully now.
"Imagine where our people, our community would be in 100 years, if we don't create TV stations and newspapers like yours today," he said. "We have to do it today, to embrace technology and use it to build our communities."
New content is under development for this new station, which is the first to broadcast over antenna TV (KSCI digital channel 18.5 in Southern California). The station also reaches North Americans via the Globecast satellite service.
The signal is also carried on the Hotbird satellite in Europe, which allows it to be received in Armenia, and around the Middle East, Europe, and Russia. Together with Armenia TV, broadcast from Armenia, it reaches a very diverse Armenian population around the world.