The Report Monitors The Media Bias Towards Government Candidates and The Effect of the Detention Crackdown on Media Performance


Cairo , January 8th ,2011
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information today announced the release of The Arab Group for Media monitoring, AWG-MM, report on the performance of official and independent media during the last elections in Bahrain held on October 3 -31, 2010 . The report presents quantitative and qualitative analysis of audio visual and paper media performance.

The results of a monitoring project that was conducted to evaluate the performance of the media in Bahrain’s latest parliamentary elections, showed limited use of the radio and television channels in disseminating election awareness, whereas, these channels were excessively used in sentimental mobilization and publicizing government officials and figures . In regard to the daily newspapers – which are privately owned – the results of the monitoring project showed that neutrality or biasness have varied towards the candidates and the political societies, however, all the five main newspapers published in Arabic have published materials in favor of the government and senior state officials in a manner that reveals the – indirect – official influence on those newspapers.

The report monitored that all the traditional media avoided addressing the issues related to the elections but considered sensitive by the authority, and it almost declined to convey the statements, opinions, and protests of the figures and parties that were boycotting the elections, which also reflects the influence of the authority over these newspapers, and the self-censorship it commits itself to, in addition to the prevalence of the political tendencies of the newspaper owners over the neutrality and professionalism of the newspapers which require imparting various opinions and information to the readers.

The report showed that the elections took place under a state of political and security crisis which greatly overshadowed the role of media and its neutrality in the elections. The election campaign period was preceded with wide arrests that were especially extended to the leaders and members of political groups who were calling for boycotting the elections. The government also targeted some opposition political groups; both participating and boycotting ones, by suspending their publications and blocking their electronic websites.

The report analyzed 15201 press material items. The performance regarding the election parties was monitored for:

- The candidates (who were 135 candidates competing for 35 seats in the Council of Representatives) - The political societies (49 of the candidates belong to a number of those societies) - Senior government officials and figures - The committee supervising the elections

The quantitative measurement of time was used for the radio and television, while measurement of space was used for the daily newspapers. The evaluation of the nature of material broadcasted or published was classified into three levels as follows: neutral, positive or negative.

The report in Arabic http://awgmm.net/?p=228

The report in English http://awgmm.net/eng/?p=31

You can also read it below.

he Results of Monitoring the Media in Bahrain’s Elections – October 2010

The Results of Monitoring the Media in Bahrain’s Elections – October 2010 Statistics that evaluate the performance of; TV, Radio and daily newspapers towards; candidates, political societies and government figures

A report released by the Arab Group for Media Monitoring (AWG-MM) With the support of the International Media Support (IMS)

This report is released simultaneously in Bahrain and Egypt January 2011

Summary of results and background and nature of the monitoring project:

The results of a monitoring project that was conducted to evaluate the performance of the media in Bahrain’s latest parliamentary elections, which took place between 3 to 31, October 2010, showed limited use of the radio and television channels in disseminating election awareness, whereas, these channels were excessively used in sentimental mobilization and publicizing government officials and figures. The role of the only authorized radio and TV channels in Bahrain, which are fully run and controlled by the government, was limited to transmitting some information related to the electoral process, while there was no broadcast time provided for the competing candidates and their political societies to present their opinions and election programs, which deprived the candidates from crucial means to reach the electors, and deprived the voters from making use of these national media, supposedly owned by the people, to get the information they need to practice their right in making conscious choices.

In regard to the daily newspapers – which are privately owned – the results of the monitoring project showed that neutrality or biasness have varied towards the candidates and the political societies, however, all the five main newspapers published in Arabic have published materials in favor of the government and senior state officials in a manner that reveals the – indirect – official influence on those newspapers.

(Attached are the detailed results, tables and charts related to the aforementioned results).

The team assigned with the monitoring project noticed that all the traditional media avoided addressing the issues related to the elections but considered sensitive by the Authority1, and it almost declined to convey the statements, opinions, and protests of the figures and parties that were boycotting the elections2, which also reflects the influence of the Authority over these newspapers, and the self-censorship it commits itself to, in addition to the prevalence of the political tendencies of the newspaper owners over the neutrality and professionalism of the newspapers which require imparting various opinions and information to the readers, and especially those eligible to vote.

The team assigned with the monitoring also noticed that the elections took place under a state of political and security crisis which greatly overshadowed the role of media and its neutrality in the elections. The election campaign period was preceded with wide arrests that were especially extended to the leaders and members of political groups who were calling for boycotting the elections. The government also targeted some opposition political groups; both participating and boycotting ones, by suspending their publications and blocking their electronic websites. As well, the government closed down all the electronic websites and forums that hold critical political opinions3. Despite that, some of these websites were able to pass over the traditional media by infiltrating the block and conveying the opinions and criticism4.

The Arab Group for Media Monitoring (AWG-MM)5, with the support of the International Media Support (IMS) based in Denmark 6, had implemented a program to monitor the performance of the media in the parliamentary elections of Bahrain in 2006; the local newspapers had at that time published the primary results of the monitoring process, and then the Group released a separate report that includes the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the diverse parties related to the electoral process7. This year, a team which was made up of 8 members who were trained on the techniques of monitoring the role of media in the elections, had implemented the monitoring project and which continued on a daily basis for nearly a month and a half where the radio, television, five daily newspapers published in Arabic and two other newspapers published in English were marked out. The election campaign period that was monitored was from October 3 to 31, 2010. The broadcasting hours that were assigned and considered as peak hours, where the TV broadcast times from 6 am until midnight, while the radio broadcast hours were from 6:30 am to 10:30 am. The number of information entered in the electronic program that was specified for processing information was 15201 entries. The monitoring process monitored the performance of the media concerning the following actors:

The candidates (who were 135 candidates competing for 35 seats in the Council of Representatives) The political societies (49 of the candidates belong to a number of those societies) Senior government officials and figures The committee supervising the elections

The quantitative measurement of time was used for the radio and television, while measurement of space was used for the daily newspapers. The evaluation of the nature of material broadcasted or published was classified into three levels as follows: neutral, positive (in favour of the party being observed), negative (not in favour of that party).

Click here to download the report