By December 18, 2012, public and private TV and radio companies of Armenia had to publicize their tariffs for political advertising during the official pre-election campaign for the RA Presidential Elections to be held on February 18, 2013. As we have reported, according to the December 8, 2012 RA Central Electoral Commission’s decision, the pre-election promotion of RA presidential candidates will be held through January 21 – February 16, 2013. In line with the Article 19 of the RA 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 (see details in YPC Weekly Newsletter, December 7-13, 2012).
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 405 AMD). In accordance with the Electoral Code, each presidential candidate is entitled to 60 minutes of free and 120 minutes of paid airtime on the Public Television of Armenia, as well as to 120 minutes of free and 180 minutes of paid airtime on the Public Radio of Armenia. The procedure and schedule of providing free and paid airtime to presidential candidates by public broadcasters will be released by CEC on the next day after the official registration of the candidates, i.e., on January 15, 2013.
The tariffs of some private broadcasters mainly remained the same as in the run-up to 2012 parliamentary elections. Thus, on national TV channels, such as “Yerkir Media” and “Kentron”, the price for one minute of promotional airtime is 36,000 and 32,400 AMD, accordingly, while on the news TV channel of Yerevan, “ArmNews”, it costs 18,000 AMD. On the Second Armenian TV Channel the price of one airtime minute makes 60,000 AMD – from 10.00 till 24.00 on Sundays and from 18.00 till 24.00 on other week days (at other time a minute costs 30,000 AMD). On the Second Armenian TV Channel the overall duration of the paid airtime for each presidential candidate for the whole period of pre-election promotion is limited by 270 minutes, while the daily duration – by 10 minutes. On “Shant” TV channel, one minute of airtime costs 120,000 AMD, at the same time, each presidential candidate may receive not more than 7 minutes a day for pre-election promotion.
The regional TV companies of Gyumri did not change their prices, either: 10,000 AMD for a minute on “GALA” TV channel and 6,000 – on “Tsayg”. “ALT” TV channel of Armavir set a price of 3,600 AMD. At the same time, not all the TV companies will provide air for the pre-election campaign. Specifically, “Sosi” TV channel of Kapan and “MIG” TV channel of Vanadzor have reported about this.
According to the Electoral Code, public and private broadcasters are required to ensure equal access to air for all presidential candidates. The coverage of their electoral campaign in the TV/radio news programs should be unbiased and with no connotations. The TV/radio materials on pre-election promotion are prohibited to interrupt with advertising on services and goods.
As to the print media, the Electoral Code commits all newspapers and magazines, established by state and local self-government bodies, to ensure equal opportunities for presidential candidates during the pre-election campaign.
In line with the Electoral Code, when publicizing the findings of public opinion polls about the ratings of presidential candidates, 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 of the poll. At the same time, the TV and radio companies are prohibited to publish findings of the exit polls on the ballot day before 20.00, i.e., before the electoral precincts are closed.