A discussion about the changes in draft law regarding Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) turned into a verbal confrontation among parliamentary minority and majority on January 17th in the Education Committee of Parliament.
Acute dispute around changes in law about Georgian Public Broadcaster
By Keti Arjevanidze
Friday, January 18
After an hour discussion, the committee voted for the bill which will further be discussed in different committees for final adoption.
The change in law about GPB refers to the staffing rule of board members and the amount of members. Two candidates will be appointed by the Public Defender, three candidates will be chosen by parliamentary majority, and the remaining parliamentary members will appoint three candidates. One candidate will be chosen by the Adjara region Public Broadcaster.
The initiators of the bill are Lasha Tughushi, editor of Rezonansi newspaper, Zviad Koridze, media analyst, Tamar Kordzaia executive director of Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics and other representatives of media organizations. The work on possible changes in law started two years ago.
Authors of the bill highlighted the idea of financial transparency of GPB and board member’s responsibilities’ in this direction.
United National Movement (UNM) members consider the bill as the political pressure on GPB; however, the Georgian Dream MPs claim the opposite.
Sergo Ratiani from UNM thinks that based on these changes, the government tries to subordinate GPB and Adjara’s regional Public Broadcaster.
Georgian Dream member Temur Chkuaseli said, with his statement, Ratiani insulted the authors of the bill.
According to Ani Mirotadze from Georgian Dream, the most important issue regarding GBP is its financial debt.
“We do not discuss how balanced or unbalanced GPB was. Based on today’s data, GPB has 23 Million GEL in debt. Accordingly, we want some regulations to be taken,” said Mirotadze.
According to Lasha Tughushi,Rezonanci Editor-in-chief, board members currently are imposed with less financial responsibilities. Tughushi also excluded the version that the bill obstructs Georgia’s integration with NATO.
Existing board of trustees of GPB did not welcome the bill. “If the draft law is taken, political power control will be established over GPB. Moreover, the mechanism included in the bill gives the opportunity to the next winners of the parliamentary elections. This draft considers GPB’s conversion into a governmental TV Company,” reads the statement of GPB’s board members.
According to the statement released by the board members, the changes in law represent the attempt of rough interference in the independence of TV Company and political pressure.