YPC Weekly Newsletter

2008


DECEMBER REPORT ON BROADCAST MEDIA MONITORING

On January 18 “TEAM” Research Center and Yerevan Press Club published the interim
report (December 6-20, 2007) on monitoring broadcast media ahead of presidential
elections 2008. The monitoring was implemented from October to December, 2007
by “TEAM” Research Center with the support of Open Society Institute Assistance
Foundation-Armenia, and with expert and resource assistance of Yerevan Press
Club. (See the interim reports for November and October in the issues of YPC
Weekly Newsletter, December
7-13, 2007
and November
16-22, 2007
, respectively.)

The monitoring covered the programs at prime time (18.00-24.00) of 8 broadcast
media: 4 national TV companies – the First Channel of the Public Television
of Armenia, “ALM”, “Armenia”, Second Armenian TV Channel; 3 TV companies
in Yerevan
– “Yerkir Media”, “Kentron”, “Shant”; 1 national radio company
– Public Radio of Armenia.

In December 2007 the format of the monitoring has undergone certain changes.
Firstly, the research covered the period not of December 1-15, 2007 (as planned
at first) but started on December 6, the official deadline for nomination of
presidency candidates, and went forth to cover five more days, i.e., December
20. In fact, in December the monitoring was administered on the days when the
coverage was most typical, and was not conducted on December 1-5 (period of
uncertainty of nominees) and on the days preceding the New Year and Christmas
holidays (December 21-31), when the programming of the broadcasters is adjusted
to reflect the festivities.

Secondly, as compared to October-November, the list of monitoring objects changed,
too. The study object in December were all the nine
candidates nominated for presidency, as well as, similarly to the previous monitoring
months, the study targeted the leaders of parties who scored more than 1% at
the parliamentary elections of 2007 (but for those who cannot run in elections
by law). Besides, the December list of the politicians studied included the
RA President Robert Kocharian so as to determine the degree of the broadcast
media attention to the incumbent President in comparison with candidates nominated.
The list excluded the potential candidates, who decided to refuse from running
in elections.

Thus, on December 6-20 the monitoring object were 17 politicians. The methodology
of the research however remained unchanged throughout the three months
(see below).

“TEAM” Research Center and Yerevan Press Club have made the following main
conclusions:

DURING THE 15 DECEMBER DAYS the distribution of attention to the politicians
at focus of monitoring by 7 TV and 1 radio channels studied was about as intensive
as during the previous stages. Similarly to October -November, in December three
nominated candidates continued to remain the leaders in terms of aggregate (on
all 8 channels studied) airtime – the RA Prime Minister, the Chairman of the
Republican Party of Armenia Serge Sargsian (42,731 sec.), the leader of the
Popular Party Tigran Karapetian (39,091 sec.) and the first RA President Levon
Ter-Petrosian (14,497 sec.). The third place – between Karapetian and Ter-Petrosian
– was taken by the incumbent President of Armenia Robert Kocharian (19,683 sec.),
covered in the vast majority of cases as the head of state.

77.7% of the aggregate airtime of Serge Sargsian was his coverage as an official.
As such, he had received much more attention than Robert Kocharian (33,185 and
19,062 sec., respectively). In December in the references to Sargsian, similarly
to the previous monitoring months, the neutral connotation continued to prevail
(403 references), yet the Prime Minister took the first line in the list of
17 politicians in terms of positive pieces (79 versus 12 negative ones).

In December on the Armenian air the negative references to the first RA President
Levon Ter-Petrosian continue to dominate. In other words, during the last month
of 2007 the unprecedented phenomenon, recorded in November, continued when the
share of neutral editorial coverage of an Armenian politician quantitatively
fell behind that of negative: 103 negative references to Levon Ter-Petrosian
versus 100 neutral ones and 4 positive ones. At the same time the share of negative
ones in the total number of references has somewhat gone down in December –
49.8% versus 58.7% – in November.

The leader of the Popular Party Tigran Karapetian, who took the first line
in terms of aggregate airtime on the channels studied in October-November, was
this time the second. However, in December, too, this volume of coverage was
ensured solely by one of the TV channels – “ALM”, owned by Tigran Karapetian
himself: a bit more than 98% of the aggregate airtime he received, as well as
all 18 positive references to the leader of the Popular Party, are accounted
for by “ALM”.

The broadcast media studied did not neglect in December the other six candidates,
nominated for presidential elections, either. Their coverage was mostly neutral,
and the TV and radio pieces primarily presented their stances, opinions as candidates,
heads of parties. In terms of aggregate airtime the four leaders were directly
followed by five presidential candidates, leaders of parties that nominated
them: Artashes Geghamian (“National Unity”), Vahan Hovhannesian (“Dashnaktsutiun”),
Artur Baghdasarian (“Orinats Yerkir”), Vazgen Manukian (National Democratic
Union) and Aram Harutiunian (“National Accord”), respectively. The ninth candidate,
self-nominated Arman Melikian, received less aggregate coverage. Gagik Tsarukian,
the leader of “Prosperous Armenia” party (member of ruling coalition), who has
taken the line after him and before other candidates in the table, has received
most of his aggregate airtime on “Kentron” TV channel. It is important to note
here, however, that in December Gagik Tsarukian was only the fourth in terms
of airtime, allocated to him by “Kentron”, while during the first months of
the study his was the most covered of all politicians at focus on this channel.

“ALM”, SIMILARLY TO THE PREVIOUS MONTHS, is again the most “politicized” (in
terms of attention paid to politicians) of the broadcast channels studied due
to his owner. Tigran Karapetian received 70.1% of this channel’s whole airtime,
allocated to 17 politicians at focus in December. As compared to “ALM”, more
than two and half times as little was the editorial coverage of the politicians
at focus on the Second Armenian TV Channel, followed by the Public Radio of
Armenia, “Kentron” and “Yerkir-Media” TV channels and the First Channel of the
Public Television of Armenia.

The least attention to the politicians at focus out of the 8 channels monitored
was paid by “Armenia” and “Shant”. In terms of aggregate airtime the leading
four on these TV channels were Serge Sargsian, Robert Kocharian, the Chairman
of “National Unity” party Artashes Geghamian and Levon Ter-Petrosian. The Prime
Minister and the incumbent RA President took the top lines on three other TV
channels, too – the PTA First Channel, Second Armenian TV Channel and “Kentron”.
Serge Sargsian and Robert Kocharian on these TV channels are followed by Levon
Ter-Petrosian, and on Public Radio the first RA President was ahead of the incumbent
head of state. Yet Ter-Petrosian’s coverage on Public Radio was mostly negative
(28 negative references of 44 or 63.6%). In terms of negative references to
the first President Public Radio shared the leading position with “Kentron”,
yet on the latter the share of the negativism is somewhat smaller (52.8% of
the total number of references). These TV channels account for more than half
of negative references to Ter-Petrosian, recorded under this research.

The picture on “Yerkir Media” is somewhat different from other channels. Here
the greatest editorial coverage was received by Vahan Hovhannesian, the presidential
candidate nominated by “Dashnaktsutiun”. He is followed by two other candidates,
the leader of “National Accord” party Aram Harutiunian and the leader of National
Democratic Union Vazgen Manukian. Against the background of generally balanced
coverage of politicians at focus, in the reporting of “Yerkir Media” two politicians
stand out, with almost equal number of references and a big proportion of connotationally
colored: out of 24 references to Vahan Hovhannesian 10 are positive, and out
26 references to Levon Ter-Petrosian 12 are negative. At the same time, unlike
other TV and radio channels studied in December, the coverage on “Yerkir Media”
of both Serge Sargsian’s and Robert Kocharian’s activities was purely neutral.

THE 17 POLITICIANS at focus were generally rare participants of “guest in studio”
programs. An obvious exception was made only by Tigran Karapetian, but all 9
discussion programs in which he took part, were aired by his own TV channel,
“ALM”. Out of the remaining 16 politicians only five (all presidential candidates)
took part in programs of this format in December. As noted already at the previous
stages of monitoring, the insufficient representation of leading politicians
on Armenian air, from both pro-governmental and opposition camps, in some cases
is due to their closeness, reluctance to engage in dialogue with journalists,
who raise issues, sensitive for them. On their behalf the TV channels themselves
are not always active with regard to pre-election subject matter: in particular,
almost never have representatives of public organizations, seeking to ensure
democratic elections, become guests of discussion programs.

IN DECEMBER the advertising materials that directly or indirectly contribute
to the image of the politicians were only recorded on “Yerkir Media” TV channel.
On its air the several times the announcement about the festive session devoted
to the 117th anniversary of “Dashnaktsutiun” party, where Vahan Hovhannesian
was to speak, was broadcast.

It should also be noted that unlike October-November, on December air of the
channels studied the monitoring group has not recorded pieces broadcast as editorial
but having certain signs of advertising.

MONITORING METHODOLOGY:

All materials of the airtime studied were subdivided into two types:
1. Editorial coverage;
2. Paid programs and advertising/announcements (political, commercial, public
service).

1. The main study unit was TV/radio piece.

2. Monitors recorded and counted the references
to politicians in the editorial and paid coverage of the broadcast media studied.
The number of positive (+), negative (-) and neutral (0)
references to politicians was also counted. The connotational (positive, negative)
references were seen to be the ones in the pieces that leave an undoubtedly
positive or negative overall impression of the politician on the audience. In
the cases when the connotation was not that certain, the reference was recorded
as neutral. Each TV and radio piece recorded only one reference and only one
connotational sign for every politician. Any appearance of the politician in
the TV shot was also considered to be a reference.

3. The monitors also recorded and measured the
material volume
, i.e., the airtime (in
seconds), allocated to politicians for expressing
their views, opinions as well as judgments, narration about them made by others
in editorial and paid coverage of the broadcast media studied. Apart from recording
the general airtime, allocated to the politician, the capacity in which the
politician appeared was also studied. Thus, the airtime (in seconds)
was differentiated and classed appropriately, according to whether it was allocated
to the politician for the coverage of his:
1. Official and professional activities;
2. Activities that are not directly related to professional or official duties.

4. The monitors recorded the participants of discussion
programs
(interviews, guest in studio, talk shows) for the TV
and radio channels studied by a separate list, mentioning the TV and radio channel,
the title of the program, the name(s) and position(s) of the participants invited.

FROM JANUARY 21 Yerevan Press Club started to monitor the coverage of presidential
elections of 2008 by broadcast media of Armenia. The monitoring covers the period
of pre-election promotion (January 21 – February 17, 2008).