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NGOs against of complete dismissal of GPB board

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, April 4
Representatives of the non-government organizations appealed to the parliament not to replace the members of the Georgian Public Broadcaster board. Special statements concerning the issue were made by Transparency International Georgia and the International Society of Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) on April 3. According to them, in the case of the dismissal of all the members of the Board of Trustees of the GPB, the Georgian parliament will create a “dangerous” precedent.

The organizations’ representatives underscored that the GPB has never been professional enough and that was the result of ineffective management and permanent political pressure. They also admitted that the Board of Trustees failed to implement adequate financial oversight and to create programs oriented on the publics’ interests. The board did not succeed in protecting employees from political interference.

The NGOs believe that the source of the problems was the political pressure placed on the board members. “Taking this experience into consideration, society and government must now work for freeing the board from a new political influence that will change the situation,” TI and ISFED suggested, adding that the dismissal of the Board of Trustees after the parliamentary elections will create a dangerous precedent that will allow the parliamentary majority to change the Board in future as well.

“In case of such a precedent, the risk of political interference increases not only concerning GPB activity, but also with all other public structures that must be politically neutral,” NGOs said.

Transparency International Georgia and ISFED suggest when the rules for formation of the GPB Board of Trustees are discussed; parliament should consider the possibility of gradual replacement of Trustees during transition period.

The organizations stressed that in the case of such an approach, the Georgian government will avoid the negative precedent of dismissing the Board, will insure a higher independence level for the Board and will coincide with the recommendations of international organizations, including the OSCE recommendations on the issue that are also against the complete replacement of the Board during the transition period.

Some time ago, the GPB Board voiced its strong concern due to the fact that despite the consistent negative opinion of the international community (expressed, amongst others, by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, NATO Parliamentary Assembly as well as the European Parliament), the Parliamentary Majority intends to proceed with the controversial amendments to the Law on Broadcasting that envisage the premature termination of the GPB Board.

The board members stressed that the GPB is one of the independent institutions in the country and plays an important role in the context of building a democratic and open society in Georgia.

”Members of the board wish to remind that the Georgian Public Broadcaster has widely been recognized as the most professional and balanced media corporation in Georgia,” the board members stated.

Parliamentary majority representatives negatively assessed the actions of the GPB board and stated that the board’s actions were politically motivated. However, majority member Ani Mirotadze, underscored that until making changes to the law concerning the GPB, the majority will consult with the minority and interested sides. Mirotadze also stated that she is against the dismissal of the board members until their term expire.

The Board of Trustees consists of 15 members; the service term of a trustee is 6 years;

One-third of the members of the Board changes once in two years, according to the rotation rule.