YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The European Institute of Mass Media has begun monitoring local media outlets in Armenia.
Leader of the monitoring team Mark Grigorian noted that the team’s objective is to find out how much time and space each presidential candidate is given–whether the information aired or printed is impartial–and whether media outlets are complying with the election law. The team is currently screening material from 12 newspapers–four television programs–three radio stations and two news agencies. Final analysis of the acquired data will be made at the Institute’s Headquarters in Dusseldorf.
Grigorian said that the team possesses preliminary information for the previous week–however–he refused to make them available to the public. He only said that neither state-controlled nor independent media give any evident preference to any candidate–however–the covert campaigning still takes place.
According to Grigorian–mass media–including state-run television and press have the right to campaign for anyone–however–they must publicly declare their support for that candidate.
He explained that party-affiliated papers are not subject to the abovementioned. Grigorian stated that it is unclear as to which candidate "AR" TV supports–because the monitoring team discovered that the channel provided free air time to Robert Kocharian–while candidate Vazgen Manoukian was requested to pay for similar service. Grigorian said it may be described as unequal conditions for candidates.
Stressing the importance of media outlets–particularly television–in orienting voters–Grigorian said that part of the population still does not have information on all candidates running for presidency.