YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The election campaign is on the whole thoroughly covered by the Armenian print media even though many newspapers–controlled by various political groups–are taking sides–a local press watchdog said on Monday.
"Those readers who are able to read all newspapers get a fairly objective picture as to which political ideas and forces exist in Armenia in the run-up to the elections," the head of the Yerevan Press Club–Boris Navasardian–told reporters–presenting the results a press monitoring conducted in March and April. But he added that only two papers–the liberal daily Aravot and the left-wing Golos Armenii–have not endorsed any candidates and political parties so far.
With an aggregate circulation of less than 50,000 copies a day in a country of more than 3.5 million–the impact of Armenian dailies on the public opinion has been limited. Various television channels–that have substantially grown in number in the last two years–are therefore viewed as far more important. None of them–including state television–place any restrictions on the amount of commercial air time for candidates. The state channel–which remains the most accessible in Armenia–currently charges $3,000 for participating in its prime time talk show which lasts for 20 minutes.
Navasardian said for that reason the impartiality of the electronic media is more difficult to gauge. He also said the ongoing campaign is the most expensive in Armenia’s history.