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Georgian media watchdog/watch puppy of Democracy

By Messenger Staff
Friday, July 1
Recently several opposition MPs in the Georgian parliament initiated the creation of a commission to investigate cases of abuse against members of the media during different developments in Georgia. Nobody either around the world or here in Georgia doubts that media should be a watchdog of democracy. Therefore real media should do its utmost to remain unbiased and impartial. In this respect it should be mentioned that criticizing any official bodies or the opposition spectrum does not mean that a media outlet is taking sides. Before and during the Rose revolution, a huge contributing factor in the success of this event was the Rustavi 2 TV channel, which was the main propagandist and organizer of the then opposition movement headed by current President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.

Immediately after the Rose administration came to power, the Rustavi 2 administration aired its new slogan ‘TV of the victorious people’, thus dividing the Georgian population into two camps: victorious and defeated. Luckily this dangerous division was immediately detected by certain wise people in the new administration and was rejected.

Democratic media should be critical, because it should pursue not the victory of any of the political forces in the country but it should target the victory of the nation as a whole, the welfare of the population, its prosperity and movement for progress. When a father in the family criticizes his child that does not mean that he hates him. He wants to improve his child properly for the sake of giving them the right educational skills to ensure that they would be successful in the future. The same approach should be applied to the role of media in any country, particularly to the one which is just emerging and is trying to build a democratic future.

Unfortunately many think here in Georgia the situation is not like this. There can be seen a clear distinction between the pro government media and the pro opposition one even though both direction-oriented media outlets claim that they are democratic and unbiased.

Generally it is acknowledged that the printed media is more independent than the electronic sector. It might be true and it has a very simple explanation as all polling, surveys and researches show that the biggest segment of the Georgian population receives information and news from the TV, more than 80%. Less than 10% receive information from the internet and only around 2% rely on printed media. Therefore those who control TV stations can exercise better means of propaganda and brain washing of the population. According to the publicly acknowledged information, the ruling administration in Georgia controls three major TV stations, transmitting countrywide: Rustavi 2, Imedi and the Public Broadcaster. It is regretful that GPB is generally observed as pro government because initially it was created exactly for the interest of promoting neutral, objective and impartial opinion. The only two TV channels which are not controlled by the state transmit only in the capital and some regions. So, most of the population of the country apart from capital cannot watch them. Of course the ruling administration is taking advantage of this situation. These two opposition oriented TV channels Maestro and Kavkasia claim that they are absolutely objective, however state officials challenge this, highlighting that they are clearly anti state administration and pro opposition.

It is very difficult to outline direct boundaries of the democratic developments but certainly there must be goodwill from all sides, mainly from the ruling administration, to allow democratic media to develop in the country, particularly when the administration claims to comply with the demands of the western values with the aim of integrating into the EU and other democratic bodies.