Media demand freedom of distribution
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, April 27
A bill prepared by the Printed Media Association will be presented to Parliament for discussion by the opposition Christian-Democratic Movement, said its leader Giorgi Targamadze on April 26.
The Printed Media Association's bill would make some amendments to the laws concerning local government and the Tbilisi City Council. The amendments will oblige these entities to encourage the distribution of printed media and help all the various physical and legal persons active in this area to creating a fair competitive environment for all of them. The Association said that some companies distributing printed media are preventing others from doing so, and this has been especially obvious since last year, when a new company, VIP distribution, came onto the market which does not hide its close relations with the Government and Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava. It added that on February 2009 the Tbilisi Mayor abolished all vending places but those belonging to this company, and though media companies resisted this change and it was reversed the threat that it might be reintroduced still exists.
“We have drafted this bill because we can see that there is a threat of a monopoly developing in this market and we are trying to prevent this. If Parliament make the relevant changes in the law printed media distribution and some other problems in this market will be regulated and an equal competitive environment will be created. However the Association has no legal right to present this bill to Parliament itself,” Lasha Tughushi, head of the Association, said
The Christian Democratic Movement has however expressed a wish to present this bill to Parliament. "Given the political and social importance of this bill we have decided to present it to Parliament. There are too many things which need improving in the present law and I hope that the majority representatives will take a step forward and take on board the Association’s very objective demands. I hope the bill will be discussed as soon as possible,” Giorgi Targamadze, Leader of the Christian Democrats, said.
Rezonansi Editor Eliso Chapidze told The Messenger, "This initiative is actually four separate bills, the main one being the one on printed media distribution and the other being about changes in the organic law. For example, the proposed amendments to the law on Tbilisi will specify that five designs of sales stands for printed media will be introduced, which will help independent vendors get round the Mayor's previous stipulation that their sites had to be removed because they did not fit the architecture of the city. This will create an equal competitive environment for each distributor and prevent one or a few companies monopolising printed media distribution. We have held consultations with all the Parliamentary parties, the majority as well as minority parties, and Giorgi Targamadze expressed the desire to present the bill in the name of his Movement and we accepted this offer.” The head of the Regional Media Organization, Ia Mamaladze, told The Messenger, "There are some very important issues concerning the media which must be regulated by law. If they are not, there will be a monopoly on the market, which will create serious obstacles not only for individuals but for the development of the Georgian media. Distribution is not the only problem of course, there are some others as well, and if things go on as they are one day somebody will create a monopoly. I hope that Parliament will take our initiative into consideration,” Mamaladze said.
The bill has already been presented but the date when it will be debated is not known.