Vote 2013: Airtime allotment shows campaign season dominated by marginal candidate’s drama

The National Commission of Television and Radio (NCTR) has presented monitoring results for TV and Radio airtime provided to the presidential candidates between January 21 and February 6.

The monitoring has revealed that Paryur Hayrikyan has received the highest air attention among the candidates – with a total of 6,085 minutes.

The general term “airtime’ in this case implies the free and paid airtime, the duration of the candidate’s or his representative’s exposure in this or that program, the length of coverage of the candidate’s campaign in news bulletins.

NCTR Chairman Grigor Amalyan summing up the monitoring said the fact that Hayrikyan received more coverage than any other candidate was conditioned by the January 31 assassination attempt. This incident turned all the media attention towards him.

By the general airtime index second comes Raffi Hovhannisian (4,215 minutes), third on the list is incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan (3,111), followed by Hrant Bagratyan (2,487), Aram Harutyunyan (1,761), Vardan Sedrakyan (1,574), Andreas Ghukasyan (1,432), and finally Arman Melikyan (1,246).

Only three of the eight candidates have used paid airtime, the most among them Hovannisian (1,146 minutes), then Sargsyan (352) and Bagratyan (125).

Amalyan explained the “indifference” to paid airtime by the fact that general airtime “is largely available”.

“Under the circumstances when there are big opportunities for the candidates to take part in TV/Radio programs either personally or through representatives, paid airtime is not so much of interest. There are vast opportunities to introduce their positions through TV/Radio programs, as well as their campaign coverage and free airtime for political advertisement,” he says.

NCTR has not registered any violations of the election coverage by TV and Radio companies. Amalyan says the commission does not do the analysis of the campaign coverage contents-wise, hence cannot say how objective, neutral, critical or biased the coverage has been.