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Feeding us optimism instead of truth

Tuesday, October 21
The most essential thing for Georgian society now is to receive correct information about what has happened in the country and what the situation is now. The opposition is currently criticizing the administration, saying that it is distorting the real picture and through the media it controls presenting a more favourable picture than the facts indicate, thus stimulating unrealistic public expectations.

According to a recent poll 28% of respondents think that Georgia was victorious in the August war! Such a result could only be the consequence of media brainwashing. By media, we don’t mean the print media which is open, transparent and mostly truthful. We refer to TV stations, these being almost entirely controlled by the administration ad having a very similar information policy. Unfortunately brainwashing has occurred because print media circulation is not large and it is costly, thus read only by a few.

As soon as the Parliamentary elections were over live debates disappeared from our TV screens for different reasons. The non-Parliamentary opposition has very little opportunity to be represented on TV programmes. They plead not only for the return of live political shows/debates but to know the names of the people who really own the TV stations. Each may have a published shareholding, but this is often not taken seriously.

Some opposition members are talking about censorship. So is the representative of independent TV channel Studio Maestro, whose political transmissions were banned by the Frequency Regulating Commission and are being restored only now by the categorical demand of the opposition. Control of the TV is of crucial importance for the authorities, as TV is the best means of disseminating the picture the authorities would like to present, and distorting the true one if need be. Political analyst Paata Zakareishvili gives the example of how the decision of the Hague court was presented by state-controlled TV, which suggested that only the Russians would be obliged to abide by the court’s decisions whereas in fact the court urged both(!) parties to strictly observe them. Again, it would be very useful if the true ownership of the TV stations was revealed, as we would then know who was censoring whom, and what motive they might have for doing so.

The authorities are trying to create a mood of unreal optimism – that the territorial or economic problems of Georgia will be resolved in the near future with the assistance of the international community. Sooner or later, and most probably quite soon, the people will see the real picture. But the truth will discredit not only the country’s leadership but also our international supporters, on whose shoulders too many hopes have quite unreasonably been put. Maybe it is a truth people would rather not know, and it appears that is what the administration is hoping for.

The opposition openly accuses the authorities of not acting in the country’s interest and having no intention of rescuing us from the disaster its own mistakes have created. The opposition is sure that the authorities care only for their own survival and maintaining their own comforts. The Government control of TV will ensure that if the opposition has no way to express its concerns on the screen it will take them out into the streets, with who knows what consequences?

The administration promises a New Wave of Democracy. If it does not become the first institution reformed by this, it can only blame itself for what might happen.