By March 5, 2012 public and private TV and radio companies of Armenia had to publicize their tariffs for political advertising and terms of contracts on its broadcast during the official pre-election campaign for the RA National Assembly elections to be held on May 6, 2012. According to Article 19 of the RA Electoral Code, this information should be announced within 10 days after the national ballot day is defined. At the same time, the Electoral Code provides that the price for 1 minute of paid airtime announced by the broadcasters should not exceed the average price for commercial advertising set for the last six months and should not be changed until the end of pre-election promotion.
By other provisions of the Electoral Code public and private broadcasters are required to ensure equal access to air for all parties/party blocs taking part in elections by proportional representation system.
On TV and radio news programs the coverage of pre-election campaigns of parties/blocs must be impartial and devoid of comment.
TV and radio programs, devoted to pre-election promotion, are not to be interrupted by commercial advertising.
The control over the procedure for pre-election promotion on TV and radio channels is implemented by the National Commission on Television and Radio (NCTR). NCTR implements a monitoring on ensuring by TV and radio companies equal conditions for parties/blocs, running in elections by proportional representation system. (The given provision was introduced to the Electoral Code particularly by Yerevan Press Club initiative. Before, NCTR had the competency of going to law when a violation is revealed; however, no such precedents were fixed.) The monitoring methodology must be released and presented to the Central Electoral Commission not later than the 20th day after the national ballot day is announced (i.e., before March 15, 2012). Results of the NCTR monitoring and conclusions are published and presented to the CEC on the 10th and 20th days of pre-election promotion (April 17 and 27, 2012), as well as before 2 days of the announcement of the official ballot results (before May 11, 2012).
Article 11 of the RA Law “On Television and Radio” stipulates that during the pre-election promotion the transmission of promotional materials of parties/blocs must have a permanent subtitle of "pre-election promotion", and on radio air at least three remindings during a program must be made. According to Article 60 of the Broadcast Law, violation of this provision draws a penalty in the amount of 1,000-fold of a minimum wage. A similar penalty is stipulated for the transmission of promotional programs on the ballot day and the day preceding it, when the electoral law restricts any issue of promotional pieces.
In accordance with the Electoral Code, each party/bloc, registered by proportionate lists, is entitled to 60 minutes of free and 120 minutes of paid airtime on the Public Television of Armenia. On Public Radio of Armenia the free airtime limit for each party/bloc makes 120 minutes, the paid airtime is 180 minutes.
According to the tariffs, defined by the Public TV and Radio Company, 1 minute of paid political advertising on the PTA First Channel costs 80,000 AMD (hereinafter all prices are indicated including VAT), on Public Radio – 3,600 AMD ($ 1 is equal to about 390 AMD). At the same time, the promotional pieces aired by the First Channel will also be broadcast by “Shirak” TV channel (part of Public TV and Radio Company).
The tariffs of private TV companies significantly differ from each other.
The highest price for one airtime minute has “Shant” TV channel – 120,000 AMD. At the same time, pre-election promotion will be broadcast on “Shant” from 18.00 till 20.00 daily.
On “Armenia” TV channel pre-election promotion of candidates, running by a majoritarian system, and parties/blocs will be aired since 18.00 till 20.00, but will cost 110,000 AMD per minute. At the same time, “Armenia” limited the duration of political advertising by 6 minutes daily for each majoritarian candidate and party/bloc.
On Second Armenian TV Channel the price of one paid airtime minute makes 60,000 AMD – from 10.00 till 24.00 on Sundays and 18.00 till 24.00 on other week days (at other time a minute costs 30,000 AMD). The overall duration of the paid airtime for each majoritarian candidate and party/bloc for the whole period of pre-election promotion is limited by 260 minutes, while the daily duration – by 10 minutes .
On “Yerkir Media” TV channel the price of one minute for political advertising is defined to be 36,000 AMD, from 18.00 till 24.00.
On “Kentron” TV channel one airtime minute is 32,400 AMD. Political advertising will be broadcast from 20.30 until 22.30 with a daily duration of 15 minutes for each majoritarian candidate and party/bloc.
“ArmNews” TV channel will provide paid airtime for 18,000 AMD per minute, from 18.00 till 20.00, but no more than 6 minutes a day for each majoritarian candidate and party/bloc.
Some private broadcasters will not allocate airtime for pre-election promotion. Particularly the following TV channels announced about this: “12 TV”; “Shoghakat” (part of Public TV and Radio Company), “Yerevan”, “AR”; regional TV channels – “Ijevan” (Ijevan, Tavush region), “Ankyun+3” (Alaverdi, Lori region), “Zangak” (Martuni, Gegharquniq region), “Abovyan” (Abovyan, Kotayk region), “ALT” (Armavir, Armavir region), “Last TV” (Goris, Syuniq region), “Sosi” (Kapan, Syuniq region).
Two TV companies of Gyumri (Shirak region) announced their tariffs. One minute of paid airtime on “GALA” TV company is 10,000 AMD, on “Tsayg” – 6,000 AMD.
As to print media, the Electoral Code requires the newspapers and magazines, founded by state or local self-government bodies, to ensure equal opportunities during pre-election campaign to all parties/blocs running by proportional system.
The Electoral Code prohibits the employees of radio and television companies, registered as candidates, from covering elections and hosting TV and radio programs.
According to Electoral Code, while publishing the findings of sociological surveys on candidate, parties/blocs ratings, the organization, administering the survey, must indicate the survey timeframes, the sample size and type, the method and place of data collection, the precise question, the statistical error margin as well as the client of the survey. Until 20.00 of the ballot day (before the closure of electoral precincts), TV and radio companies are prohibited from publishing the exit polls’ results.