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Public Broadcaster not to produce exit-polls

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, September 19
Several opposition parties have addressed Georgia’s Public Broadcaster (GPB), a channel funded through the state budget, to refrain from conducting exit-polls with Georgia's three main private TV channels.

The parliamentary opposition Free Democrats (FD) and the non-parliamentary opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia, believe the joint effort of the four broadcasters will damage the image of the GPB through airing “false information” about the October 8 Parliamentary Elections’ winners before official figures are announced.

Four Georgian broadcasters have agreed in early September to merge their financial efforts and jointly hire one company to conduct exit polls at the upcoming October 8 Parliamentary Elections.

Imedi TV, Maestro, GDS and Georgia’s Public Broadcaster (GPB) announced an agreement had been reached where all parties would financially contribute to jointly hire TNS Global, an independent market research company from the United Kingdom.

The British research company will be tasked to survey voters and release unofficial results before the true election winners are named by Georgia’s Central Election Commission (CEC).

Broadcasters must pay $937,635 to use the research services of TNS Global. The GPB will pay a share of $87,000.

"Field works will be carried out by the Georgian Opinion Research Business International (Gorbi),” said head of the GPB Giorgi Baratashvili.

One of Georgia’s leading private broadcasters, Rustavi 2 - which according to the current Government is affiliated with the previous ruling United National Movement party - said it will conduct separate exit polls and hire a German research company, GFK, to carry out their own survey.

“The result of the merger for the exit polls will be that when the elections are over, one part of the Georgian media will announce the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party as a winner, while another part will say the opposition UNM won the race,” press representative of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia, Bakur Bakuradze, said.

A member of the FD party, Gia Tsagareishvili, believes the GPB, as a channel financed through the money of the Georgian people, has a higher responsibility and it must announce the independent outcomes of the exit polls separately from private TV channels which are generally affiliated with political parties.

An election exit poll is a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling stations. Unlike an opinion poll, which asks for whom the voter plans to vote, or some similar formulation, an exit poll asks for whom the voter actually voted.