YPC Weekly Newsletter

2009


YPC PRESENTED THE PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF MONITORING THE COVERAGE OF ELECTIONS OF YEREVAN COUNCIL OF ELDERLY BY ARMENIAN BROADCAST MEDIA

On May 22 at “Urbat” club Yerevan Press Club presented the preliminary findings
of monitoring the coverage of elections of Yerevan Council of Elderly on May
31, 2009 by broadcast media of Armenia. The study is implemented by Yerevan
Press Club, with the assistance of Open Society Institute, in two stages: first
stage
– April 16 – May 1, 2009 (ahead of the pre-election promotion);
second stage – May 2-29, 2009 (period of pre-election
promotion).

The monitoring covers 7 Armenian TV channels: 3
national channels
– First Channel of the Public Television of Armenia,
“ALM”, Second Armenian TV Channel; 4 channels of Yerevan – “ArmNews”,
“Yerkir Media”, “Kentron”, “Shant”.

The monitoring subject is all programs, aired at
the evening prime time of the abovementioned TV channels, containing references
to six parties and one party bloc/their leaders/representatives, running in
the elections of Yerevan Council of Elderly; as well as the airtime, allocated
for pre-election promotion of parties/bloc.

Ahead of the official election campaign programs, aired from 18.00
till 24.00
, were studied. From May 4 the beginning of monitoring
was shifted to an hour earlier – from 17.00 till 24.00.
This was due to the time of demonstration of the pre-election promotion materials
of the parties/bloc. In particular, on the First Channel of the Public Television
of Armenia, in accordance with the RA Central Electoral Commission Resolution
of May 2, 2009, the pre-election promotion of parties/bloc is broadcast starting
from 17.15. At the same time, the programs that started but did not end before
18.00, or before 17.00 from May 4, are not studied. The programs that started
but did not end till 24.00 are studied in full, until their end (for details
on the monitoring methodology, see below).

At the meeting with the journalists on May 22 Yerevan Press Club released the
findings of monitoring, administered ahead of official election campaign (April
16 – May 1, 2009), as well as the results, obtained during the first two weeks
of the pre-election promotion (May 2-15, 2009).

AT THE FIRST STAGE OF THE STUDY, April 16 – May 1,
the leader in terms of aggregate airtime allocated
to parties/bloc in editorial coverage of all 7 TV channels studied, became the
Popular Party (44,481.6 sec.). It is followed by ARF “Dashnaktsutiun” (33,331.3
sec.). The Republican Party of Armenia (12,289.5 sec.) and “Prosperous Armenia”
(12,043.8 sec.) received almost equal coverage. The aggregate airtime to the
three other parties/bloc, running in the elections, was allocated as follows:
“Orinats Yerkir” – 5,232.5 sec., Armenian National Congress – 4,492.4 sec.,
Labor Socialist Party of Armenia – 127.1 sec. Along this dimension the parties,
whose activities were paid more attention by this or that TV channel, ahead
of the pre-election promotion, received the most coverage. Thus, the Popular
Party was widely covered in the air of “ALM”, “Dashnaktsutiun” – on “Yerkir
Media”, the Republican Party of Armenia – on “ArmNews”, “Prosperous Armenia”
– on “Kentron”.

During the period that precedes the pre-election promotion 7 TV channels studied
referred more frequently to ARF “Dashnaktsutiun”
(378 references), Republican Party of Armenia (229), “Prosperous Armenia” (154)
and Armenian National Congress (120). The leader in terms of airtime, the Popular
Party was the fifth in terms of the frequency of references (72). It is followed
by “Orinats Yerkir” (59) and Labor Socialist Party of Armenia (16). The overwhelming
majority of the references to parties/bloc were neutral (94.6%). The most positive
references were given to the Republican Party of Armenia (22) and to “Prosperous
Armenia” (19, 15 of which were remarked on “Kentron”). The other parties received
but a few positive references. All the 22 positive references about the Republican
Party of Armenia (out of which 16 were heard on “ArmNews”) were accounted for
the first figure in its electoral list, the incumbent Mayor of Yerevan Gagik
Beglarian. Out of 8 negative references of all the TV channels studied 3 were
addressed to “Orinats Yerkir” and to Armenian National Congress each, 2 – to
the Republican Party of Armenia.

Ahead of the pre-election promotion the indisputable leader in terms of aggregate
airtime, devoted by the 7 TV channels to the first figures of
the electoral lists of parties/bloc (i.e., to candidates to Mayor of Yerevan),
became Tigran Karapetian (44,372 sec.), while Gagik Beglarian (first in the
electoral list of the Republican Party of Armenia) who took the second line,
received a bit more than seven times less coverage (6,056.5 sec.). Notably,
99.8% of the aggregate airtime, allocated by the 7 TV channels studied to the
Popular Party, was taken by its leader Tigran Karapetian.

FOR THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF THE OFFICIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN,
May 2-15
, the volume of editorial coverage of parties/bloc, running
in the elections of Yerevan Council of Elderly, has increased one and a half
times, as compared to the previous stage. Here again, the Popular Party was
the leader in terms of aggregate airtime (57,103.3
sec.). The second line was taken by “Prosperous Armenia” (32,415.6 sec.), putting
behind ARF “Dashnaktsutiun” on the third rank (26,057.1 sec.). As compared to
the previous stage, “Orinats Yerkir” received more broad coverage and was the
fourth (21,276.1 sec.), while the Republican Party of Armenia, in the contrary,
fell from the third rank to the fifth one (17,624.1 sec.). The Armenian National
Congress and the Labor Socialist Party of Armenia, similarly to the previous
stage, closed the table, receiving 9,442.8 sec. and 4,134.6 sec., respectively.
During the first two weeks of the pre-election promotion, similarly to the previous
stage of the study, almost all the airtime (98.5%), allocated by the 7 TV channels
to Popular Party, was accounted for its leader Tigran Karapetian.

As to the nature of the coverage, the trends marked during the previous stage
of the study, remained generally the same. In the first 14 days of the official
electoral campaign, the overwhelming majority of the references
(97.1%) on the 7 TV channels were neutral. Most of all positive references were
accorded to the Republican Party of Armenia (11 references versus 1 negative),
the Popular Party (10) and “Prosperous Armenia” (9). At the same time, the latter
two did not receive any negative references. 5 out of the 11 positive references
to the Republican Party of Armenia were accounted for by “ArmNews” TV channel;
they all pertained to Gagik Beglarian, number one in the electoral list of the
party. It should be also noted, that none of the representatives of the other
parties/bloc received any connotation colored reference on “ArmNews”. All the
10 references to the Popular Party were marked on “ALM” TV channel and were
addressed to its leader Tigran Karapetian. 6 out of 9 positive references to
“Prosperous Armenia” were heard on the air of “Kentron”. Among the other connotational
references on the 7 TV channels, 3 negative and positive each were addressed
to “Orinats Yerkir” and 1 negative – to the Armenian National Congress.

Ahead of the pre-election promotion and during its first two weeks all the
references of negative nature addressed to parties/bloc, their representatives
were made not by the journalists themselves, but expressed in the opinions of
the discussion programs and newscasts participants.

The paid airtime, allocated by all the 7 TV channels to parties/bloc for pre-election
promotion (political advertising)
, from May 2 till May 15 was
more actively used by “Prosperous Armenia” (14,141 sec.). It is followed by
the Republican Party of Armenia (4,710 sec.), ARF “Dashnaktsutiun” (3,661 sec.),
“Orinats Yerkir” (3,107 sec.), Armenian National Congress (3,021 sec.). Notably,
“Dashnaktsutiun” placed its paid political advertising only on the air of “Yerkir
Media”. The same picture was noted with the Popular Party, all the 856 sec.
of paid airtime of which were only on “ALM” TV channel. During the first two
weeks of the electoral campaign all the parties/bloc have used the free airtime
that they are entitled to on the First Channel of Public Television of Armenia.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE STUDY

Monitoring objectives: to determine and define through analysis
of quantitative data

– the effectiveness of legislative regulation of the broadcast media (primarily,
the public ones) activities and the level of observance of the legislation by
the TV channels during the elections;

– the level of attention of broadcast media of Armenia to the elections of
Yerevan Council of Elderly;

– how adequate the broadcast media are in informing the electorate about parties/party
bloc, running in the elections of Yerevan Council of Elderly;

– how adequate the broadcast media are in ensuring the access to air of the
candidates to Yerevan Council of Elderly to express their views and opinions.

To meet these objectives, methodologies of qualitative and quantitative monitoring
are applied. The qualitative monitoring includes studying legislation and other
official documents, relevant for the elections process in Armenia, conversations
with media heads, journalists, politicians, representatives of the public, as
well as the analysis of public statements, opinions voiced regarding the media
activities at pre-election time. Quantitative monitoring includes counting and
measuring of TV programs directly.

Monitoring Methodology

All materials of the airtime studied are subdivided into two types:

1. Editorial coverage;
2. Pre-election promotion (political advertising)
, allocated to
the parties/bloc, running in the elections of Yerevan Council of Elderly.

All the necessary data for monitoring are recorded in two tables. Table No.1
presents the parties/bloc, running in the elections of Yerevan Council of Elderly
and the first two figures in the electoral lists of parties/bloc. Table No.2
presents the first figures in the electoral lists.

1. The main study unit is TV piece.

2. Monitors recorded the references
(in units), their connotations/nature
(positive [+], negative [-], neutral [0]), as well as the airtime
(in seconds), allocated to 7 parties/bloc, running
in the elections of Yerevan Council of Elderly, in the editorial coverage of
the broadcast media studied. The party/bloc “accounts” also received the portion
of references (their connotations) and the airtime given to the representatives
of these parties/bloc (their statements, speeches, quotations, as well as descriptions
of their activities, opinion and comment about them by other persons). The references
(their connotations), airtime dealing with the first two numbers in the electoral
lists of the parties/bloc are recorded, regardless of the capacity these figures
appeared in. In the cases with other representatives of a party/bloc, as well
as with the representatives of an election headquarters/proxy of a party/bloc,
the references (their connotations), airtime are only recorded when their party
affiliation is somehow stressed in the TV piece.

The connotational (positive, negative) references are seen to be the ones in
the pieces that leave an undoubtedly positive or negative overall impression
on the audience about the party/bloc or its representatives. In the cases when
the connotation is not that certain, the reference is recorded as neutral. All
doubts of the monitor are interpreted towards recording a neutral reference.
Moreover, if the piece informs that any person/organization has publicly announced
its support/or lack of support to the party/bloc, the reference to this party/bloc
is recorded as positive/negative, respectively.

In each TV piece only one reference and only one connotational sign is recorded
for every party/bloc or its representatives.

Any appearance of the first two figures in the electoral list of a party/bloc
in a TV shot, which is not a part of the piece where the party/bloc is mentioned,
is also considered to be a reference. If the appearance in the shot is a part
of the piece where the party/bloc is mentioned, this does not count as an additional
reference.

The reference (its connotation), airtime, allocated to the first
figure
in the electoral list of party/bloc are recorded in Table
No.2
, as well as in the appropriate column of party/bloc in Table
No.1
.

Apart from recording the airtime, allocated to the number one in the electoral
list, the capacity in which it appears is also studied. Thus, the airtime is
differentiated and classed appropriately, according to whether it was allocated
to the first figure for the coverage of his/her:
1. Official and professional activities;
2. Activities that are not directly related to professional or official duties.

3. The monitors also record and measure the volume of the
materials, i.e., the airtime (in seconds),
allocated to the party/bloc for pre-election promotion in broadcast media studied
(17.00-24.00) and marked on TV channels as “pre-election
promotion”. The volume of paid and free political advertising is measured separately.
The political advertising slot that started but did not end till 17.00 is not
monitored. The political advertising slot that started but did not end till
24.00 is studied in full, until its end.

4. The monitors record the participants of discussion
programs
(interviews, guest in studio, talk shows) for the TV
channels studied by a separate list, mentioning the TV channel, the title of
the program, the name(s) and position(s) of the participants invited. If the
discussion program participant is not the first or the second in the electoral
list of party/bloc, but other representative of party/bloc or its election headquarters/proxy,
and in the program this status is specified, in the list of discussion program
participants the program is recorded as featuring the party/bloc.