YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"Presidential election coverage in media was on a higher level compared to the 1995 parliamentary and 1996 presidential elections," read a press release of the European Mass Media Institute on media coverage of the 1998 presidential elections. Experts of the organization felt that Armenian media backed the commitment of the leadership of the country to run free–fair and transparent presidential elections.
Comparing the number of hours and space dedicated to presidential candidates by television and print media respectively–experts said that the number of media outlets supporting Robert Kocharian exceeded those supporting Karen Demirchian. Nevertheless–state controlled media–both print and electronic–made an attempt to provide equal coverage to both candidates. Some editors–experts noted–complained that Demirchian’s campaign staff showed restraint in meeting with media representatives or giving interviews–while Kocharian’s campaign staff was welcomed the press.
Experts believed that to correct all the flaws reported during the coverage of the 1998 presidential elections–it is necessary to constantly raise the level of professionalism of journalists–to adopt new legislation regarding media–and to adopt a new election law which would iron out all differences and inaccuracies of the law in effect.
The monitoring group was led by Mark Grigorian and Elizabeth Fuller who is the regional specialist for Transcaucasus Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.