Monitoring of hidden advertising on Latvian TV channels

Delna, SFL

ABSTRACTThe research was carried out within the framework of the Transparency in the financing of political parties” project implemented by Transparency International Latvia Delna and the Soros Foundation.

The goal of the research was to find out whether material that could be classified as hidden political advertising appears on TV channedls during the pre-election period. Four TV channels were monitored during the time period from 28 February to 12 March 2001: LTV-1, LTV-2, LNT and TV3, for a total of 20 000 minutes.

The key features signalling hidden advertising in mass media are the following:

  • Homogeneity or lack of criticism in the material (for example, a news story lacks significant information, the opinion of the involved parties or critical approach to the source; in interviews only pleasant or unpleasant questions are asked and other criteria).
  • The story is shown without any other obvious reason than just the promotion or calumniating of a party or a particular politician (in the media a particular political party or a politician often appears in a positive or negative context; information is provided about the everyday life or other activities of the politician unrelated to politics, as well as other criteria).
  • It was established that during the pre-election campaign all TV channels broadcast materials that could be regarded as hidden political advertising. The cases indicate significant violation of professional and ethical principles, which may have involved buying time on certain TV programmes, or been a result of lack of professionalism. Most of these cases involve a politician appearing in various programmes, where journalists ask easy and pleasant questions. In the programmes broadcast by LNT, 109 cases were found which could be regarded as violations (51% of the total), on LTV-2 – 78 cases (36%), on TV3 – 15 cases (7%) and on LTV-1 – 13 cases (6%).

    Monitoring of hidden advertising on Latvian TV channels

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