On May 5, 2013, Yerevan residents will vote for the Council of Elderly, the only Armenian self-government body elected exclusively upon a proportional system (the first Yerevan elections were held in on May 31, 2009). According to the February 21, 2013 RA Central Electoral Commission’s decree, the pre-election promotion of the registered parties/party blocs will last from April 7 till May 3, 2013. Pursuant to the RA Electoral Code, the National Commission on Television and Radio (NCTR) implements control on the ensuring of equal conditions for parties/party blocs by Armenian TV and radio companies during the official campaign. In this vein, NCTR monitors the Armenian radio and TV air. NCTR should publish and present the monitoring results to the CEC on the 10th and 20th days of the pre-election promotion (e.g., on April 16 and 26, 2013), as well as not later than two days before the announcement of the official ballot results (before May 10, 2013).
On March 11, NCTR released its monitoring methodology, which particularly presumes: scanning of the TV and radio programs; studying the information, provided by the broadcasters or received from the parties/blocs running in the elections, state bodies, public and international organizations, as well as analyzing the media materials reporting on violations of the electoral legislation by the broadcasters.
While monitoring the paid and free airtime, allocated to parties/blocs for pre-election promotion, NCTR will asses: the invariability of tariffs, announced by broadcasters for political advertising throughout the whole official campaign; the broadcasters’ compliance with the non-discrimination principle, when allocating air and time for broadcasting promotional materials; the lawfulness of arguments, provided for the denial of airtime for broadcasting promotional materials. Moreover, NCTR will track the broadcasters’ compliance with other legislative provisions (for details in Armenian see http://www.tvradio.am/?page_id=3824). It should be noted that the methodology of this monitoring is similar to the one used for the presidential elections of February 2013 (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, January 11-17, 2013).
By March 2, the public and private TV and radio companies of Armenia had to publicize their tariffs for political advertising during the pre-election campaign. In line with the Article 19 of the Electoral Code, 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 official campaign.
Overall, the announced tariffs for political advertising during the Yerevan Council of Elderly elections remained the same as in the 2013 presidential elections.
Thus, 1 minute of paid political advertising on the First Channel of Public Television of Armenia costs 80,000 AMD (hereinafter all prices are indicated including VAT), on Public Radio of Armenia – 3,600 AMD ($ 1 is equal to about 410 AMD). In accordance with the Electoral Code, each party/bloc is entitled to 30 minutes of free and 50 minutes of paid airtime on the Public Television of Armenia, as well as to 50 minutes of free and 80 minutes of paid airtime on the Public Radio of Armenia. The procedure and schedule of providing free and paid airtime by public broadcasters will be released by CEC on the next day after the official registration of party lists, i.e., on April 1.
A minute of promotional airtime on national private TV channels will cost: on “Shant” – 120,000 AMD; “Armenia” – 110,000; “Yerkir Media” – 36,000; “Kentron” – 32,400; Second Armenian TV Channel – 60,000 (from 10.00 till 24.00 on Sundays and from 18.00 till 24.00 on other week days) and 30,000 (for other hours).
The private TV channels of Yerevan have defined their prices accordingly: “ArmNews” – 18,000 AMD; “ATV” – 24,000; “AR” – 20,000; “Yerevan” and “Laym” – 15,000, each.
Three private radio companies have also announced their tariffs for 1 minute of paid airtime: “Radio 107 FM” – 2,800, “FM 105.5” – 3,120 and “Radio Hay” – 2,400. (For more details on the broadcasters’ tariffs and conditions set for the pre-election promotion see in Armenian at http://www.tvradio.am/?p=3828.)
Article 10 of the RA Law “On Television and Radio” stipulates that during the pre-election promotion the transmission of promotional materials must have a permanent TV subtitle – “pre-election promotion”, and on radio air at least three remindings of pre-election promotion 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 materials on the ballot day and the day preceding it, when the electoral law restricts the broadcast of such pieces.