I am referring here to TV stations – the most accessible and mainstream media in Armenia. For the first time in years, Armenians witnessed what should have been something routine and unexceptional – balanced media coverage. There was no need to wait for 7pm (Radio Liberty) or morning newspapers (although both means are important and invaluable) to learn non-biased news on election campaign of opposition candidates or witness balanced coverage.
This was particularly true for former Armenian president, current presidential hopeful Levon Ter-Petrosyan who is considered the main challenger of ruling regime and whose informal pre-election campaign so far attracted more negative than even neutral coverage:
"In December on the Armenian air the negative references to the first RA President Levon Ter-Petrosian continue to dominate. In other words, during the last month of 2007 the unprecedented phenomenon, recorded in November, continued when the share of neutral editorial coverage of an Armenian politician quantitatively fell behind that of negative: 103 negative references to Levon Ter-Petrosian versus 100 neutral ones and 4 positive ones. At the same time the share of negative ones in the total number of references has somewhat gone down in December - 49.8% versus 58.7% - in November. "
Another presidential hopeful Artur Baghdasaryan was complaining of unofficial boycott imposed towards his campaign and persona by Armenian TV channels, which are overwhelmingly under government influence and control.
Anyway, today was a different story - Armenian media behaved as it should have behaved always. If it only continues this trend over the whole election period and beyond... Media monitoring by international and local agencies played important role in putting pressure on government and Public TV via mainly European/US influential bodies, and is as vital as ever to ensure continuous fair coverage of presidential campaign.