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President Vetoes Broadcasting Law amendments as Problematic to Media Diversity

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, January 17
(TBILISI)--Georgiaís President Giorgi Margvelashvili has vetoed the amendments in the Law on Broadcasting and stated the planned changes create threats to media diversity and lack transparency.

The President was particularly against allowing Georgiaís Public Broadcaster (GPB), the only media outlet in Georgia with the state financing of GEL 52 million, to release commercials.

Margvelashvili shared the view of the civil sector and the opposition that the GPBís entering the commercial market would damage private broadcasters, with no budgetary funds, which are dependent on the commercials.

The President also stood against the changes in the Law on State Procurements that provide privileges to the GPB.

Based on the amendments, the Law on State Procurements will not expand to programs prepared by independent legal entities that will take up no less than 25 percent of GPB broadcasting.

Restrictions provided through the Law on State Procurements will not expand to programs, films, and TV series aired by the GPB as well as to resources necessary to make such products.

Margvelashvili stated that the Law on State Procurements was to completely change as it does not fit the European standards.

He also said the Law did not ensure transparent spending of the peopleís money.

The amendments adopted by Parliament in December 2017 enable GPB to release commercials on working days in order to generate more money for development.

The draft was prepared by the GPB staff with the help of media experts and some lawmakers from the Georgian Dream (GD) ruling party.

The ruling party is not unanimous over the bill. However, many of them claim the changes are necessary for the channelís development.

The opposition and NGOs strongly opposed the changes and welcomed the Presidentís position on the draft.

The opposition and NGOs also believe that the new head of the GPB, the Georgian Dream (GD) affiliate Vasil Maghlaperidze, will fail to improve the channel.

The draft says that GPB can redirect part of his state financing to encoring of start-up businesses.

The opposition says the channel has nothing to do with the business.

The President has sent his motivated remarks to Parliament and addressed the lawmakers to make a decision based on state interests.

If the Georgian Dream (GD) decides to override the veto, they will need at least 76 votes in the 150-member Parliament, when the ruling party takes 116 seats in the legislative body.