On January 15 RA Central Electoral Commission passed the decision "On the Procedure for Pre-Election Promotion of RA Presidency Candidates in Media". As it has been reported, previously, several Armenian media voiced criticism of the draft version of its decision, noting it exceeded the CEC authority on the regulation of private media activities (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, January 1-17, 2003). However, the provisions that incited the discontent of the journalistic community, are preserved in the final text. In particular, the candidates for the RA presidency are not entitled to endow their free and paid air time to other candidates, and the newspapers are required to place the announcement of a promotional piece of a candidate on their front pages. These restrictions are legitimate only for public and state media.
As to the state-owned press, during the pre-election period "Hayastani Hanrapetutiun" and "Respublika Armenia" must allocate space of 0.25 quire to each candidate for free publication of promotional materials.
The decision also regulates the activities of public broadcasters, in particular, the allocation of free and paid air time to each presidency candidate: 60 and 120 minutes respectively on the air of Public Television, 120 and 180 minutes – on the air of Public Radio. The succession of time allocation to the candidates for pre-election promotion by the public broadcasters is determined by the schedules made up by sortition. The appropriate schedules were approved by the CEC on January 20.
On January 17 the Procedure for Pre-Election Promotion of RA Presidency Candidates in Media was registered by the RA Ministry of Justice and will be enforced, as the law requires, 10 days after the registration.
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