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Paying to be heard: tariffs on political adverts released

By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, August 15
The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), Channel 1 and Channel 2 and the nationwide broadcasters Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV, published a pre-election campaign advertising schedule with their associated tariffs.

Pre-election political add prices per minute range from GEL 3,500 to 7,000 and from 2,000 to 3,200 on Channel 1 and Channel 2 respectively. The length of the airtime daily dedicated to election subjects on the GPB Channel 1 amounts to 168 minutes, 144 minutes of which is free.

Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV however, offer political TV adds relatively cheaper– about nine-times cheaper, in comparison to previous presidential and parliamentary elections.

The cost of a minute-long political ad on Rustavi 2 ranges from a minimum of GEL 660 in its morning news program, to a maximum of GEL 6,250 during its late-night comedy TV series.

Political ads are a bit cheaper on Imedi TV. The highest valued ad slot costs GEL 5,430 per minute during its main news bulletin at 8pm, followed by GEL 4,940 during the airing of its comedy series. The cheapest ad slot on Imedi TV costs GEL 990.

The price list, which is required to be posted online by the TV stations, spread over the period between August 13 and August 19 and are likely to change in the following weeks as the election date approaches.

Prices on Kavkasia TV and Maestro TV are even lower. Minute-long ads vary, starting at GEL 180 in the morning, to GEL 720 in the evening, during its talk-shows Barrier, Hot line and Spectrum. As for Maestro TV, it has two types of ad rates– GEL 1,000 per minute for ad slots in the morning and afternoon and GEL 1,650 per minute for slots in the evening and late at night.

Channel 9, owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s wife, offers political ads at the lowest prices. Channel 9 is charging political parties from GEL 100 to maximum GEL 390 per minute.

According to the election code, broadcasters are obliged to set equal prices on political ads for every political party. The law also obliges the broadcasters to allocate 90 seconds for free ads every three hours to “qualified political parties” – these are the parties which have cleared, separately or together, with others in an electoral bloc, a 4% threshold in parliamentary elections and a 3% threshold in local self-government elections.

The Georgian Public Broadcaster has to allocate 1 minute of free airtime every hour to ads of “qualified parties”.

Nonetheless, the system seems to be very fair. However, civil society representatives are still concerned about fairness of advertising. Human Rights Center claims it found numerous violations, not regulated by legislation related to the latent political advertisements. In its report, Human Rights Centre emphasizes the social advertisements describing successful governmental projects, which according to HRC, benefits the ruling party.