May 10, 2007
ACNIS and NCI Conclude Monitoring of Pre-Election Media Coverage
Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS), together with the National Citizens’ Initiative (NCI), today convened a policy roundtable to present the final results of its monitoring project that focused on media coverage in the run-up to the parliamentary elections of May 12. The meeting brought together NGO representatives, leading analysts, policy specialists, and members of the press.
ACNIS director of research Stepan Safarian opened the conference with the reminder that, at the beginning of 2007, a specialized monitoring group under the auspices of ACNIS had launched a four-month project to analyze television and print media coverage, specifically as they relate to the forthcoming elections. The monitoring, which covered the country’s most-watched television programs, accounted for all information disseminated about the leaders of major political parties, the distribution of airtime, and several other key factors. “According to the monitoring results, pro-establishment forces have carried out an extensive campaign in electronic media which support the incumbent authorities and certain parallel political forces,” Safarian said. “The election-related activities of the various political players were not covered equally. The coverage of opposition campaigns was either biased or tainted with sarcasm. Very often, however, there was no coverage to speak of.”
The first speaker, ACNIS analyst Syuzanna Barseghian, presented the final results for the monitoring of television newscasts. According to her study, H1 Public Television was the clear leader with respect to the most airtime devoted to the forthcoming elections. The monitoring did not include, she made sure to mention, the activities of political parties and state officials that did not relate directly to the elections.
“The monitoring has illustrated that certain electronic media advance the interests of specific political parties or pro-establishment forces,” the monitoring group concluded.
In her turn, ACNIS associate expert on human rights Zhanna Aleksanian presented the final results for the monitoring of the pre-election cycle. The report incorporated party actions that conflict with the Election Code, illegal acts committed by state bodies that are charged with the conduct of fair elections, and all criminal actions that cast doubt on the election process. In Aleksanian’s words, reported intimidation reached its peak during the campaign season. “The official campaign period—as well as the interval leading up to it—was full of blatant violations of the Election Code,” Aleksanian noted. “The authorities, therefore, have demonstrated their lack of political will to conduct free, fair, and democratic elections.”
Participants in the ensuing discussion included Artak Zeinalian of the Republic Party; analyst Karine Batoyan; policy specialist Levon Zurabian of the International Crisis Group; and various others.
Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2007, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, democratic development, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.
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