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UNM appeals to president to use his veto again

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Tuesday, November 4
The United National Movement (UNM) addressed the President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili to veto the draft that envisages changes in the Public Service Announcements (PSA), which was approved by the parliament of Georgia last week.

According to the UNM, the amendments will affect media outlets. The party claims that aside the financial factor, the bill threatens media freedom as well.

The draft concerning the PSA was initiated by the Ministry of Justice. The ministry states that the goal of the draft was to reduce state funding for broadcasters by administrative agencies.

According to the draft, the broadcasters will be authorized to sell airtime to the administrative agencies to launch PSAs upon filling-up free time apportioned for public service ads (no less than 90 seconds every three hours). In line with the applicable edition of the law, administrative agencies are authorized to buy airtime from the broadcasters any time to launch PSAs.

In the case that the administrative agency and the broadcaster fail to reach agreement on the compliance of the proposed advertisement to the definition of the PSA, the Georgian National Communications Commission, upon the parties consent, shall examine the disputable issue.

According to the Deputy Minister of Justice Sandro Baramidze, Administrative bodies have a lot social massages and through the amendments they will have an opportunity to provide the public with positive messages.

However, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and broadcasters are against the amendments.

General Director of TV channel Rustavi 2 Nika Gvaramia said that private television should have a choice. “I should have a choice… for example, if the social advertisement is against my editorial policy, I should not be forced to broadcast it,” stated Gvaramia.

General Director of TV channel Maestro Ilia Kikabidze is also against the free social advertisements.

“This is a loss for any TV channel and we should not be obliged to air something free-of-charge,” he said. NGOs and media representatives also claim that the draft does not define clearly what is a social ad, and the lack of definition might encourage some administrative bodies to use the law for their PR needs.