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Media monitoring report finds lack of balance

By Messenger Staff
Friday, May 16
Georgian television’s campaign coverage is favoring the ruling party, an OSCE/ODIHR interim report suggests.

The report, the second released by the OSCE/ODIHR in the run-up to parliamentary elections next week, says the state-run public broadcaster was the most balanced of the monitored television stations.

However, while it devoted roughly equal coverage to the ruling National Movement and nine-party opposition coalition, nearly two-thirds of ruling party coverage was positive compared to less than a quarter of coverage of the opposition coalition, the report said.

Two privately-owned stations, Rustavi 2 and Mze, have only recently restarted broadcasting opposition campaign activities after a mutual boycott ended in late April.

They are both jointly-owned by Georgian Industrial Group and GeoMedia Group; the former was co-founded by ruling party MP Davit Bezhuashvili. Opposition figures have accused both of favoring the government.

The OSCE report said that during the recent boycott Rustavi 2 and Mze “devoted concentrated and favorable coverage” to the ruling party which was “overwhelmingly positive or neutral in tone.”

It also says that since the boycott ended, coverage of the political opposition has been much less than the authorities.

The report also notes a program commissioned by the Tbilisi city government about ongoing local government projects in the capital.

It says the program, broadcast daily by Mze, gives extensive coverage of ruling party candidates participating in the events the program covers, without giving similar airtime to other candidates.

Meanwhile in Adjara the ruling party candidate for Batumi enjoys “intense and favorable” coverage from Adjara TV, which is owned by regional authorities, according to the report. “No other candidate has so far received comparable coverage,” it reads.

The exception was Kavkasia TV, which the OSCE report assessed as a “platform for the opposition.” The station went off-air two days ago due to technical problems.