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07.12.2004

Access of candidates to mass media during the election campaign

   

 

The access of candidates to presidency to mass media and the context of presentation of information on election in different mass media are the subjects of the research carried out by the Institute of mass information (IMI), international human rights protecting organization “Article 19” and the Kharkov group for human rights protection (KhG). In what follows we present the results of the IMI monitoring conducted by the IMI, “Article 19” and KhG in Kyiv and regions of Ukraine.


General tendencies disclosed in the course of monitoring:

  • From August to the first half of September the mass media rendered disproportionately large access to mass media to candidate from power Viktor Yanukovich in comparison with opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. This tendency intensifies as the election becomes nearer.

  • Biased presentation of information about opposition leader Yushchenko is strengthening in almost all central mass media. Besides, the 5th channel somewhat increased the amount of news of negative character concerning candidate Yanukovich and the government.

  • Only Viktor Yanukovich had the opportunity (and realized this opportunity) to express his opinion on practically all topics in central mass media. The basic topic, on which the candidate spoke, was the topic of economics. Least often Yanukovich paid attention to the topics connected with democratization and transparency of state rule.

  • Representatives of opposition could not obtain equal access to national mass media. At the same time, the basic TV channels, except the 5th channel, most frequently connected the information about the opposition with conflict situations.

  • During all monitored period the essential part of political advertising was directed not so much to the support of this or that candidate as to discrediting of political rivals. The most discrediting materials were published about opposition leader candidate Yushchenko.

  • Regional mass media owned by state represent the tendencies similar to the tendencies demonstrated by national private and state channels: candidate from power gets much more access to voters than other candidates.

  • During ten weeks of the election campaign representatives of the parties, which supported candidate to presidency Viktor Yanukovich (Party of regions, NDPU, SDPU (u)), had disproportionately larger access to central mass media than representatives of opposition parties and political groups.




Table 1. Proportion of negative information (in %) about main candidates in the total amount of election news in central mass media in September, October and first two weeks of October 2004



UT-1

First

national radio

Інтер

1+1


Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

V. Yushchenko

16

15

18

2

1

5

7

10

24

11

13

18

V. Yanukovich

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

P. Simonenko

0

1

0

0

0








O. Moroz

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

N. Vitrenko

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0


Dynamics of the access of the candidates with greatest rating to mass media

  • From August to the first half of September the mass media rendered disproportionately large access to mass media to candidate from power Viktor Yanukovich in comparison with opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. This tendency intensifies as the election become nearer.

In August-October the proportion (in %) of the direct speech of V. Yanukovich in the total amount of direct speech of five candidates in the news was 86.3% on the channel UT-1, 100% on the First national radio channel, 68.3% -- on the channel “Inter” and 73.6% -- on the channel “1+1”.

In the first half of October Viktor Yanukovich got the greatest amount of direct speech in the news on the First national radio channel and UT-1.

The proportion of direct speech of V. Yushchenko in the total amount of direct speech of five candidates in the news in August-October was 1.66% on the channel UT-1, 0% -- on the First radio channel, 10% -- on the channel “Inter” and 7.66% -- on “1+1”.

In the first half of October the proportion of informational presence of Yushchenko essentially increased on TV channels “Inter” and “1+1”, but his appearance was, as a rule, represented in negative light. More or less equal access to viewers was provided by the 5th TV channel, which transmitted the direct speech of all candidates with greatest rating, except, maybe, candidate Natalya Vitrenko. In August the proportion of direct speech of V. Yanukovich in news of this TV channel was 42% of all amount of direct speech of five candidates, and the proportion of V. Yushchenko’s – 45%. In September these numbers were 32% and 49%, respectively.


Context of presentation of information about main candidates to President’s post

  • Biased presentation of information about opposition leader Yushchenko is strengthening in almost all central mass media. Besides, the 5th channel somewhat increased the amount of news of negative character concerning candidate Yanukovich and the government.

The effect of unequal access of candidates to mass media is strengthened by the biased context of presentation of information about the candidates from opposition, in particular, V. Yushchenko. In the course of time this tendency changes: in the first half of October one fifth, and sometimes even one fourth, of all news in prime-time on the channels UT-1, “Inter” and “1+1” had the negative slant regarding the leader of opposition. Only the 5th channel, “Golos Ukrainy” and the First national radio provided more balanced presentation of news. In the news of the 5th channel there were 4% of negative information about V. Yanukovich in August, 6% -- in September and 9% -- in the first half of October.


Table 2. Proportion of positive information (in %) about main candidates in the total amount of election news in central mass media in September, October and first two weeks of October 2004



UT-1

First national radio

Inter

1+1


Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

V. Yushchenko

5

2

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

4

7

0

V. Yanukovich

36

33

18

15

10

20

27

29

33

25

24

19

P. Simonenko

7

5

0

3

0

6

0

0

0

4

5

0

O. Moroz

7

5

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

9

11

0

N. Vitrenko

5

5

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0


Topics of elucidation of the activities of main candidates in the news

  • Only Viktor Yanukovich had the opportunity (and realized this opportunity) to express his opinion on practically all topics in central mass media. The basic topic, on which the candidate spoke, was the topic of economics. Least often Yanukovich paid attention to the topics connected with democratization and transparency of state rule.

  • The information about representatives of opposition was, most frequently, connected with conflict situations.

During the period of monitoring Viktor Yanukovich had the opportunity to express his opinion on practically all topics – from economic development to constitutional reform. He did not speak only on the topics connected with democratization and transparency of state rule. The information positive for Yanukovich concerns, as a rule, “positive economic consequences” of his work on the post of Prime Minister, “improvement of social maintenance” in the country and the successful international activities of this candidate.

Oleksandr Moroz, Petro Simonenko and Natalya Vitrenko rather frequently declared in the news about their intentions to “improve the social maintenance” and to integrate with the European Union or CIS countries.

The information about Yushchenko, most often negative, was presented in the context of social conflict, probable or existing interethnic conflicts, as well as in the context of “contradictions” between Eastern and Western Ukraine.


Access of main candidates to regional mass media

Regional mass media owned by the state represent the tendencies similar to those demonstrated by national private and state channels. Monitoring of mass media in the Crimea, in Transcarpathian region and in Kharkov showed that the proportion of direct speech of main candidates (and representatives of headquarters of V. Yanukovich and V. Yushchenko) was noticeably unbalanced in favor of the candidate from power.


Table 3. Proportion (in %) of direct speech of main candidates (and representatives of headquarters of V. Yanukovich and V. Yushchenko) in some regional mass media owned by the state in August and September 2004



TVC “Krym”

“Krymskie izvestiya”

“Novyny Zakarpattia”

“Vremia” (Kharkov)


Aug

Sep

Aug

Sep

Aug

Sep

Aug

Sep

V. Yanukovich

0

23

100

41

100

0

73

0

Representatives of Yanukovich’s bloc

0

0

0

0

0

100

0

100%

V. Yushchenko

100

5

0

0

0

0

11

0

Representatives of Yushchenko’s bloc

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

P. Simonenko

0

25

0

0

0

0

11

0

O. Moroz

0

10

0

15

0

0

5

0

N. Vitrenko

0

37

0

42

0

0

0

0


The tendency, which was observed in regional mass media since the second half of September, evidenced the actualization of national questions.


Context of political advertising

  • During all monitored period the essential part of political advertising was directed not so much to the support of this or that candidate as to discrediting of political rivals. The most discrediting materials were published about opposition leader candidate Yushchenko.

The first mass medium that began to use such method of influence on citizens was the state TV channel UT-1. Since September all central media, except the First national radio and oppositional 5th channel, started to use this method. The lion’s share of the advertising trailers negative for V. Yushchenko are the trailers of Roman Kozak and Oleksandr Yakovenko: practically all advertising trailers of these candidates discredit the leader of opposition. Essential part of political advertising of Dmytro Korchinskiy is also directed to distortion of Yushchenko’s image.

It should be noted that the figures for the entire October will, probably, be higher than for first two weeks of the month.

In September about one third of all political advertising trailers on ICTV channel were also negative as to V. Yushchenko.


Table 4. Proportion of negative advertising trailers (in %) about V. Yushchenko in the total amount of political advertising trailers in central mass media (August, September and first two weeks of October 2004)


UT-1

First national radio

Inter

1+1

Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

Aug

Sep

Oct

81

54

32

-

0

0

-

36

23

-

48

28


During the first half of October the number of advertising trailers in support of the acting Prime Minister somewhat exceeded the number of trailers in support of his opponent Yushchenko (on “Inter”: 41 trailer for V. Yanukovich and 25 – for V. Yushchenko; UT-1: 89 and 79, respectively; “1+1”: 32 and 25, respectively). The advantage of total size of Yanukovich’s advertising over Yushchenko’s one was larger: the average duration of advertising trailers of V. Yushchenko was about 15 seconds, and the average duration of Yanukovich’s trailers – about 25 seconds.


Access of representatives of political parties to central mass media

  • During ten weeks of the election campaign representatives of the parties, which supported candidate to presidency Viktor Yanukovich (Party of regions, NDPU, SDPU (u)), had disproportionately larger access to central mass media than representatives of opposition parties and political groups.

In what follows we adduce the proportion of the direct speech of different parties in the total amount of direct speech of parties in the news (on “1+1”, “Inter”, UT-1 and the First radio). In August the Party of regions, NDPU and SDPU (u) had 75%; bloc “Our Ukraine”, Yulia Timoshenko’s bloc, Ukrainian People’s party and party “Our Ukraine” – 9%; CPU and SPU – 17%. In September the Party of regions, NDPU and SDPU (u) had 76%; bloc “Our Ukraine”, Yulia Timoshenko’s bloc, Ukrainian People’s party and party “Our Ukraine” – 9%; CPU and SPU – 7%; other parties – 7%. In the first half of October the Party of regions, NDPU and SDPU (u) had 90%; bloc “Our Ukraine”, Yulia Timoshenko’s bloc, Ukrainian People’s party and party “Our Ukraine” – 10%; CPU and SPU – 0%; other parties – 0%.

In the first half of October representatives of the Party of regions dominated in the news of central mass media: they had 641 seconds of direct speech on UT-1, 337 – on the First national radio, 317 – on “Inter” and 225 – on the channel “1+1”.


Methods used during the monitoring

The goal of the project “Candidates to presidency and access to mass media” is assessment of the level of the access of candidates to central and a number of regional mass media, as well as the level of impartiality at elucidation of their activities, views and features.

One of the basic criteria of assessment of the access is the proportion of direct speech of every candidate on these or those TV channels and in newspapers.

Impartiality of the materials about candidates was assessed on the basis of two factors:

  • Level of impartiality of journalists’ attitude to candidates;

  • Level of impartiality of the context, in which the activities of candidates were elucidated.

All materials, which have direct or indirect connection to presidential election and appear at primetime on TV channels, the First national radio and in newspapers, are the subjects of monitoring.

All materials are divided into following groups and categories:

  1. News: all informational messages in TV news, in newspapers and on radio channels.

  2. Chargeable political advertising.

  3. Direct/allocated access: all free of charge materials, which are controlled by the candidates;

  4. Opinions: articles, features, in which the position of the author on the election is expressed, or the topics connected with election race.

  5. Special features on the topic of election: TV debates, interviews with candidates, special reportages about the course of election campaign, etc.

  6. Enlightenment of voters: materials, which contain the detailed information on the questions, connected with the election procedure and voting, rights of voters, probable violations, etc.

The news are also classified by the topics (social maintenance, economic development, state budget, conflicts, etc.). Besides, sources of information and language of the news are also fixed.

Monitoring of mass media is realized by the group of researchers, which underwent the training on the questions of use of methodology.

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