YPC Weekly Newsletter

2006


YPC MEDIA MONITORING: EUROPEAN NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY AND MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE ACCOUNT RECEIVE LITTLE COVERAGE WITH NO NEGATIVISM

On October 1-31, 2006 Yerevan Press Club monitored the coverage by Armenian
media of European Neighbourhood Policy and Millennium Challenge Account. The
monitoring was implemented under YPC project “Supporting Freedom and Quality
of Journalism and Directing Media Towards Urgent Issues”, supported by the Open
Society Institute. The study aimed at gaining and analyzing quantitative data
to determine the attention of Armenian media to European Neighbourhood Policy
and Millennium Challenge Account that Armenia is involved in, including specific
directions/priorities of both programs.

Monitoring covered:

4 TV companies – nationwide Public Television of Armenia (PTA First
Channel) and “Armenia”, covering whole or significant part of Armenia, “Yerkir-Media”
and “Shant” TV companies in Yerevan.

6 national newspapers – official “Hayastani Hanrapetutiun” and “Aravot”,
“Azg”, “Haikakan Zhamanak”, “Hayots Ashkhar”, (dailies); Russian-language
“Golos Armenii” (three times a week).

Monitoring objects were: all publications of newspapers
above, the main newscasts, news and analysis programs, and commenting programs
of the TV companies above, containing any references to European Neighbourhood
Policy and Millennium Challenge Account.

Monitoring conclusions:

1. News coverage at TV channels. The news coverage on TV channels
that were monitored displayed extremely low attention to European Neighbourhood
Policy and Millennium Challenge Account. The PTA First Channel allocated 3.2%
of the total number of pieces in news/news and analysis programs to the subject;
“Armenia” – 2.7%; “Yerkir-Media” – 2.6%; “Shant” – 1.3%. Overall, of all 1,897
pieces studied in news/news and analysis programs 48 (or 2.5%) were dealing
with the subject: 17 – in full, 31 – partly. Most of this coverage refers to
European Neighbourhood Policy – 38 pieces (14 – in full, 24 – partly), whereas
the Millennium Challenge Account was made a reference to only in 10 pieces (3
fully dealing with the subject, 7 – partly dealing with it). None of the issues
of the weekly news and analysis programs “360 Degrees”/”Sunday Hailur” (PTA
First Channel) and “Sunday Horizon” (“Shant”) never addressed ENP and MCA,
and the “Horizon” newscast (“Shant”) and the news and analysis program “Yerkragund”
(“Yerkir-Media”) in October only mentioned the European Neighbourhood Policy.
The references to both ENP and MCA were in the pieces of the news and analysis
program “Express”/”IT Express” and the weekly sum-up “Sunday Express” (“Armenia”)
as well as in the main newscasts of “Hailur” (PTA First Channel), “Zham” (Armenia)
and “Yerkirn Aysor” (“Yerkir-Media”).

In the vast majority of cases the coverage of ENP and MCA was due to official
events (speeches of the Armenian leadership, meetings with representatives of
other countries, European Union, etc.)

“European Neighbourhood Policy” was in the camera focus due to a number of
events in October, primarily, the visit of European Union representatives to
Yerevan – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Erkki Tuomioja, Minister of
State of Germany Gunter Gloser, the Head of European Commission Delegation in
Armenia and Georgia Ambassador Torben Holtze, the end of negotiations on Action
Plan for Armenia; the meetings of the RA President Robert Kocharian with Torben
Holtze, the President of Romania Traian Basescu, the heads of diplomatic missions
of EU member countries, where, among other issues the ENP was discussed; the
session of RA-EU Cooperation Committee held in Brussels and the related press-conference
of the RA Minister of Trade and Economic Development Karen Chshmaritian.

The pieces had a purely reporting, general nature, they told nearly nothing
about the specific directions (the Action Plan priorities), with the exception
of the cases when the report characters noted the directions themselves in a
certain context. Hence, less than 10 references were made to issues of regional
cooperation (Armenia-Azerbaijan-Georgia), twice the energy system reform was
mentioned, in particular, the issue of Metsamor NPP, and once – the Mountainous
Karabagh conflict resolution process.

The events prompting the coverage of the Millennium Challenge Account in October
were, first of fall, the meetings of the RA Prime Minister Andranik Margarian
with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairman Matthew Bryza, the Prime Minister of Belarus
Sergey Sidorskiy, as well as the working sessions held under the MCA. No MCA
specific directions were mentioned in the pieces.

2. Connotation of the TV channel news coverage. It is most
noteworthy that the pieces containing references to European Neighbourhood Policy
and Millennium Challenge Account were never negative in connotation. In other
words, these programs were mentioned either in neutral (32 references) or in
positive (16) context. The European Neighbourhood Policy received 24 neutral
and 14 positive references; the Millennium Challenge Account received 8 neutral
and 2 positive ones. While “Hailur” newscast of the PTA First Channel and the
news/news and analysis programs of “Yerkir-Media” mostly retained neutral tone,
the proportion of positive and neutral references in the news/news and analysis
programs of “Armenia” TV and in ”Horizon” newscast of “Shant“ TV had a greater
share of positive references (8 to 6 and 3 to 1, respectively). The positive
connotation of pieces was due primarily to the fact it quoted opinions, statements
of Armenia and foreign representatives, assessing ENP and MCA favorably.

3. Commenting programs. The commenting programs “Fifth Wheel”
(PTA First Channel) and “Perspective” (“Shant”) monitored did not address the
Millennium Challenge Account and European Neighbourhood Policy at all. The latter
was only mentioned in the commenting programs of “Yerkir-Media” TV – in the
issue of “European Diary” and the issue of “Window” cycle that was launched
in October, when a film on ENP by the order of European Commission Delegation in Armenia was shown. Today “Yerkir-Media” is the only major Armenian TV channels that
has permanent awareness raising programs on issues of European integration.

4. Print media coverage. As compared to the news coverage
on TV channels, the newspapers studied displayed even smaller interest to European
Neighbourhood Policy and Millennium Challenge Account. Except “Hayastani Hanrapetutiun”
that allocated 3.7% of the total number of pieces to the programs, the newspapers
did not refer to the subject even in 1% of the publications: “Hayots Ashkhar”
and “Golos Armenii” – 0.7% each, “Haikakan Zhamanak” – 0.5%, “Azg” – 0.4%, “Aravot”
– 0.2%. Thus, of 4,670 newspaper pieces monitored, only 50 (or 1.1%) were dealing
with European Neighbourhood Policy and Millennium Challenge Account: 13 – in
full, 37 – partly. Most of these publications (32) appeared on the pages of
“Hayastani Hanrapetutiun”. Similarly to the TV channels, the coverage in the
newspapers focused on European Neighbourhood Policy – 37 pieces (8 – fully dealing
with the subject, 29 – partly dealing with it), whereas Millennium Challenge
Account was referred to only in 13 publications (5 fully dealing with the subject,
8 – partly dealing with it). MCA, however, was never mentioned in “Azg”.

Similarly to the TV channels, print media mostly addressed ENP and MCA in case
of official pretexts; such were the events of October as listed above. The publications
were mostly reports of general nature, did not mention the specific directions
of the programs, but for “Hayastani Hanrapetutiun”, who gave a broader presentation
of specific directions/priorities of ENP Action Plan, in contrast to other media
studied. Overall, 5 references were made to the issues of regional cooperation
and implementation of the program in other countries of the region (Georgia,
Azerbaijan) each; 2 – to the process of Mountainous Karabagh resolution. Other
directions of European Neighbourhood Policy, besides those noted, were only
covered in publications of “Hayastani Hanrapetutiun”: “Strengthening of human
rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom
of assembly” (4); “Economic growth and poverty reduction”, “Rule of law and
approximation of legislation with European standards” (2 each); “Improvement
of election system and elimination of fraud”, “Policy implementation in other
countries and in general” (1 each).

As to Millennium Challenge Account, of all directions of the program two references
were made to “Development or regional communication networks (primarily, rehabilitation
of regional/rural roads”) and once each – “Loans to farmers”, “Involvement of
civil society (in general)”, “Improvement of irrigation system”.

5. Connotation of newspaper coverage. Similarly to the TV
channels studied, the newspaper coverage of European Neighbourhood Policy and
Millennium Challenge Account were either neutral (42 references), or positive
(8). Positive references were made for European Neighbourhood Policy only: positive
assessment was given in quotations of officials and in only two articles the
positive context was conveyed by the authors themselves.

YPC Report on Monitoring Armenian Media Coverage of European Neighbourhood
Policy and Millennium Challenge Account can be viewed at www.ypc.am in “Studies”
section.