February 17, 2007


(16-02-2007, EurasiaNet)

As Armenia's parliamentary election campaign takes shape, opposition parties are crying foul after public and private television broadcasters set what leading government critics consider to be exorbitantly high prices for campaign ads.

One minute of airtime will cost candidates and political parties about 80,000 drams (US$225) on public television and as much as approximately 130,000 drams per minute on private television stations. The parliamentary election will be held 12 May. The prices are more than double the approximate US$120 per minute charged during Armenia's 2003 parliamentary elections.

Armenia's election law grants political parties an hour of free airtime on state television and two hours on state radio during the campaign season. Parties must pay for any airtime over that limit. A 5-million-dram (roughly US$14,000) limit set on each candidate's campaign spending could pose an additional obstacle for opposition parties. Assuming no other campaign expenses, each candidate would only have enough money to pay for about one hour of advertising during the campaign, based on the current pricing structure.

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