Campaign Bias?: Opposition claims senior ruling party member’s TV show undermines impartiality

Campaign Bias?: Opposition claims senior ruling party member’s TV show undermines impartiality

Photo: www.1tv.am

A new program on Armenia’s Public Television called Triangle, which was launched on November 6 and is run by Armen Ashotyan, deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), Minister of Education and Science, is strongly criticized by the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC), who claim that the program violates the principle of equality in the referendum campaign that commenced the same day.

The ANC statement reads that the program is a mockery of the principle of campaigning equality. “There is no democratic country in the world, where it is possible for a ruling party leader, and not an impartial and unbiased journalist, to be a host of a debate show on the public (or even private) TV,” it said.

The ANC urged the authorities to immediately refrain from “another step” undermining the constitutional legitimacy of the referendum, creating a public debate in a format that will be conducted by neutral and impartial professionals and will ensure equal rights of inviting the audience of the “Yes” and “No” supporters.

Speaking on the ANC statement, Ashotyan wrote on his Facebook account that he was thankful for that kind of attention and interest, and for keeping the program in the center of public debate and advertising. He said that the program had not been created in order to provide special coverage of the referendum campaign as there are “many other specific platforms” for that.

“Of course, given the importance of the issue at this stage some of the releases of the program will be dedicated to the constitutional referendum. You may think I upset the equality a little during the first release of the program, but you should also admit that the representative of the “No” front had more airtime. Invitations for participation in the program will be sent to different political parties, including the ANC. I am looking forward to meeting the ANC’s leaders in our studio. I’ll ask them direct questions and will listen to their views,” the education minister wrote.

Earlier, Ashotyan told media that he received the invitation from H1 TV (Public Television) and it was difficult for him to accept it. After considering the invitation he decided to try that type of creative work as well.

He gave assurances that the Triangle show will not conduct a “yes” campaign, whereas he will perform the function of the host assigned to him. “I will give the most inconvenient questions to any guest. I already like the noise and excitement, which has already emerged.”

To the question on how he will be able to combine the work of the minister and the TV show host the senior Republican Party member said: “I am not complaining yet. I am a young person, and if you follow my daily schedule, you will see that I am able to combine [activities].”