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It Concerns You proposes media equality legislation

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, May 8
The 35 NGOs and media outlets that make up the It Concerns You campaign have submitted a new proposal for legislative changes to Parliament, demanding a healthy media environment during the October elections.

Tamar Kordzaia, Executive Director of the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics and one of the authors of the legislative package, said all the changes to the electoral code have been “adjusted to the interests of electorate”.

Focused on six main issues, the campaign aims for an improvement of the ballot-counting procedure on the day of elections; transparency of activities of the electoral administration; regulation of the usage of human resources; transparency of administrative bodies during the pre-election period; insurance of media balance for political parties during the electoral period, as well as regulation of political advertisements, media-monitoring, debates and informational support of elections; diversity of satellite network broadcasting; and defining the powers of the National Georgian Communication Commission.

Kordzaia told The Messenger that Central Election Commission and District Election Commission sittings should be live-streamed in order to provide the audience with the most up-to-date information about the pre-election process.

Speaking of the imbalance in media accessibility, Kordzaia suggested putting the media on equal footing not only in the capital, but in the rural regions, so as to offer a diversity of information to the public.

In addition, the group recommends that the number of voters be officially defined before the opening of ballot boxes at Precinct Election Commissions, as this should be able to prevent commissions from falsifying results.

It Concerns You also suggests the restriction of administrative resources starting from June 1, reducing the number of people who may participate in election campaigns.

Shorena Shaverdashvili, Editor-in-Chief of Liberali magazine, believes that this package of laws is important for media equality. Recalling the difficulties faced by newly-launched Ninth Channel, Shaverdashvili welcomed the proposal to oblige television companies to transmit the signals of every broadcaster through satellite. None of the companies so far have picked up the Ninth Channel, while large national broadcasters like Rustavi 2 and Imedi have refused to stay with Bidzina Ivanishvili's Global TV. “It was a political gesture – a form of protest not media competitiveness,” she said.

Shaverdashvili also stressed the need for political debates on various channels in order to put the opponents on an “equal political playground.”

Pavle Kublashvili, Chair of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, has met with It Concerns You campaign members and promised to present their bills at the bureau sitting.