The state media paid very little attention to the first stage of the presidential election campaign, Alyaksandr Antsipenka, head of the media monitoring group of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, said Tuesday at a news conference in Minsk, commenting on the group's first report.
As had been the case in previous election years, election-related issues received two or three times less coverage than the weather, Mr. Antsipenka said. The state media did not run special features on the signature-collection stage while routine reports were few and, as a rule, ironic and derogatory of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's opponents, he said.
The head of state accounted for 75 percent of the election coverage by Belarusian Television (Channel One)'s news show "Panarama," the central election commission for 19 percent and the CIS observation mission for six percent, Mr. Antsipenka said.
Although there were initially 17 contenders in the presidential race, "Panarama" mentioned only Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Uladzimir Nyaklyayew, Uladzimir Pravalski and Syarhey Haudukevich by name, Mr. Antsipenka said.
A paltry 0.86 percent of the show's running time was devoted to the election process, 3.45 percent to the weather and 17.4 percent to sports, Mr. Antsipenka said. The percentages for the news shows of the ONT television network and Channel One of National Radio were not much different, he said. The way provincial media outlets covered the election campaign was similar, he noted.
Mr. Antsipenka's group monitored 18 media outlets, including television and radio channels, and printed and online versions of state and non-state newspapers, between September 25 and October 16. The monitoring process will end on December 30.