YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


LAW REGULATION OF MEDIA ACTIVITIES DURING ELECTIONS OF YEREVAN COUNCIL OF ELDERLY

On May 2 the RA Central Electoral Commission (CEC) approved the procedure and
the timeline for public TV and radio broadcasters to provide air for pre-election
promotion to parties/party bloc, running for seats in the Yerevan Council of
Elderly.

The succession of the parties/bloc to be given air by public broadcasters for
pre-election promotion was determined by a timeline made after draw and approved
by CEC. The air for pre-election promotion is given to parties/bloc daily, from
May 4 till May 29, 2009. The promotion pieces are aired by the First Channel
of the Public Television of Armenia and on Public Radio of Armenia – the frequencies
69.77 MHz, 1395 KHz and the republican FM network.

The beginning of pre-election promotion of parties/bloc on the public television
is defined to be 17.15, on public radio – 13.30. In case of a technical need,
the broadcasters may shift the timeframes, specified by 30 minutes at most.

Each party/bloc is given 30 minutes of free and 50 minutes of paid airtime
on the public television. At the same time the airtime duration for each party/bloc
is defined as follows: a) on May 4 – May 25 (22 days) – one minute of free and
up to 2 minutes of paid airtime; b) on May 26-27 (2 days) – 2 minutes of free
and up to one minute of paid airtime; c) on May 28-29 – 2 minutes of free and
up to 2 minutes of paid airtime.

Each party/bloc on public radio receives 50 minutes of free and 80 minutes
of paid airtime. The airtime duration for each party/bloc is defined as follows:
a) on May 4-5 (2 days) – one minute of free and up to 3 minutes of paid airtime;
b) on May 6 – May 27 (22 days) – 2 minutes of free and up to 3 minutes of paid
airtime; c) on May 28-29 (2 days) – 2 minutes of free and up to 4 minutes of
paid airtime.

If the party/bloc has not used the time allocated in accordance with the timeline,
it does not receive make-up airtime. The airtime, allocated to one party/bloc,
cannot be used by another party.

The public broadcasters provide live air to parties/blocs, in case of their
request – also a program host, or broadcast video and audio materials, provided
by the party/bloc.

Public and private broadcasters have already set forth the tariffs for paid
promotion. One minute of air on Public Television of Armenia costs 80,000 AMD,
on Public Radio of Armenia – 20,000 AMD (here and after the VAT is included
in the given prices).

The tariffs of private broadcasters are higher. Thus, a minute of airtime on
“ArmNews” TV channel costs 81,000 AMD, on “Armenia” – 82,000 AMD, on “Kentron”
and Second Armenian TV Channel – 84,000 AMD, on “Yerkir Media” – 96,000 AMD.
“Shant” TV company set the price for one minute at 90,000 AMD, stipulating at
the same time, that each party/bloc is allocated not more than 100 minutes of
airtime overall during the promotion and not more than 3.5 minutes daily.

The RA Electoral Code defines that the announced price cannot be revised within
the whole period of the pre-election promotion.

According to the other regulations of the Electoral Code, the public and private
broadcasters are to ensure equal access to air to all party/blocs, running in
the elections. In the newscasts that report on election campaigns of the candidates,
party/blocs equal and fair terms must be observed. That coverage should be impartial
and free of comment. The TV and radio programs, dealing with pre-election promotion,
are not to be interrupted by commercial advertising. The TV and radio companies
are committed to recording the programs, dealing with pre-election promotion,
and keeping the records for not less than 3 months.

The control on TV and radio companies to follow the pre-election promotion
procedure is assumed by the National Commission on Television and Radio which
is entitled to start litigation, should violations be revealed. In its turn,
the CEC is authorized to present its opinion on such violations.

As to print media, the Electoral Code commits all newspapers and magazines,
regardless of their founders, to ensure equal opportunities (space, tariffs,
etc.) for all parties/blocs in the publishing of pre-election promotional materials.
Exception is made only for party editions.

According to the Electoral Code, the coverage of elections, hosting of TV and
radio programs by journalists of Public TV and Radio, other TV and radio companies
as well as by employees of editorial offices, who were registered as candidates,
is restricted.

When publicizing the findings of public opinion polls about the ratings of
parties/blocs, the organizations that have administered the polls must specify
the name of the organization that administered the survey, the timeframes, the
sample size and sampling method, the data collection method and place, the exact
question, the estimated error margin, the client and the funding source of the
poll. At the same time it is prohibited to publish findings of public opinion
polls one week before the voting day.

Besides, Article 11 of the RA Law “On Television and Radio” defines that the
broadcasting of pre-election promotional materials, provided by the parties/blocs
through their pre-election funds, should have a mandatory, uninterrupted screen
marking, “pre-election promotion”, and in case of the radio air at least three
reminders of these must be made during the program (for the Public TV and Radio
Company the regulation also includes the free airtime). On the voting day and
the day before the broadcasting of news, editorial, documentary or authored
programs of promotional nature as well as any form of promotion is prohibited.

It should be noted that the elections of Yerevan Council of Elderly will take
place on May 31, 2009.