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Media Organizations, NGOs Call on MPs Not to Override Presidential Veto on Broadcasting Bill

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, January 19
(TBILISI)--Media outlets and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) call on the parliament of Georgia not to override President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s veto on the amendments to broadcasting law.

Moreover, the organizations demand the meeting with the Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze and the ruling majority Georgian Dream (GD) MPs regarding the draft law adopted by the parliament in late December 2017.

“We welcome the decision of the President on vetoing the bill as we believe this is the chance to get back to the issue and re-consider it,” reads the statement of 52 media organizations.

The organizations noted that the bill envisages granting Georgia’s state-financed Public Broadcaster a right of commercial advertising, adding it will pose threat to the stability of private media outlets.

“Our society deserves a strong, influential free public broadcaster. At the same time, it deserves a strong and independent media, so we call on the lawmakers to take these two issues tinto account,” the statement reads.

Two days ago 37 NGOs also released nearly similar statement, saying the proposed law significantly increases the risk of non-transparency and corruption from the Georgian Public Service broadcaster.

“The law may damage the private broadcasters and the Georgian media environment in general,” the NGOs stated.

Nino Lomjaria, Georgia’s Public Defender stated she supports the position of media and non-governmental organizations.

“We hope that the actions from media and NGOs will result into the adoption of a law that will not interfere with the media environment and will guarantee equal conditions for all media outlets," the Ombudsman stated.

Commenting on the issue, Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said he is ready to meet the representatives of media and NGOs and discuss the amendments to the broadcasting law.

“We [the majority] are ready for consultations and plan to meet the representatives of media and NGOs,” he noted.

On January 15, Margvelashvili vetoed the amendments to the broadcasting law, which gives state-financed Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) more independence, power and also the right of commercial advertising.

The GPB, whose financing increases proportionally to the state budget, received around 46.4 million GEL from the state last year, while in 2017, it was financed by 44.5 million. In 2018, the funding of the GPB has increased by 5.695 million GEL and amounted to 52.100 million GEL.