Monitoring Report on the Media Coverage of Elections in the First Nine Days of the Campaign

Skopje, 15 April 2019 – The Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services released today the First Report on the Broadcasters’ Manner of Reporting during the Election Campaign for the period from 1 to 9 April 2019. The monitoring covered a total of 32 programming services, i.e. 15 national programming services (13 TVs and two radios), and 17 regional and local televisions. In the first nine days of the campaign, the national media focused more on the activities of presidential candidates, while some of them did not report on the local elections at all in their newscasts, or merely mentioned some of the mayoral candidates. Two television stations reported only about the elections in the Municipality of Debar.

The regional and local media outlets, however, were more concentrated on the local elections in their municipalities, but dedicated only small amounts of time to them, with the exception of the Ohrid-based TVM, which informed about the activities related to the mayoral election campaign throughout most of its newscasts.

The presidential campaign was not covered with much intensity, due to which one may say that the time allocated to the candidates was not sufficient to draw any assessments of the extent to which the principle of equitable distribution of airtime among the three candidates was observed, i.e. whether balance was achieved in the reporting. Nevertheless, the findings provide clues as to whether and how the principle of equality was respected.

The analysis identified several approaches to reporting in the media. Some of the media sought to ensure equal allocation of the airtime set aside for both the candidates and the parties supporting them, others strove to provide approximately equal airtimes distributed among the candidates. With some of the broadcasters, the allocated airtimes reflected the difference in the intensity of Blerim Reka’s campaign – either individually, or together with the parties supporting him, while with other media outlets, the shorter airtime given to the candidate Blerim Reka, apart from the intensity of his campaign, was also due to the difference in the approach – shorter news items, without direct addresses, which was not the case with the reporting on the other two candidates.

The practice of Sonce TV to convey primarily the views of the political party of Macedonian Alliance, the president of which owns this television station, continued in the first nine days of the campaign.

Most media also aired special information programmes (interviews and/or debates) dedicated to the elections, while in the remaining daily news programmes, most of the airtime was usually set aside for the activities of the Government.

The public broadcasting service of MRT1 and the 24 Vesti TV provided information for the people with hearing impairments, by providing sign language translation of one of their news editions, as well as of some of the debates.

The first report on the manner of broadcasters’ reporting during the election campaign (1 – 9 April 2019) is available at this link.