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The News in Brief

Tuesday, January 30
Media Outlets Oppose Changes to Broadcasting Law

Representatives of national and regional television stations, as well as print media outlets, held a meeting with Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze on January 26 to discuss the controversial amendments to the Law on Broadcasting.

The legislative bill, approved by the Parliament last month and vetoed by President Giorgi Margvelashvili on January 15, envisages further expansion of powers of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), and has attracted heavy criticism from civil society organizations and private broadcasters.

Representatives of private television stations slammed the new regulations again, arguing that they, especially the regional channels, would suffer financially from GPB’s entry into the advertising market.

Natia Kapanadze, head of the publicly-funded Adjara TV, criticized the amendments as well, saying the process would not “lead to better public broadcaster.”

Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze noted that there were differences among the ruling party lawmakers when the bill was being discussed in December, but added the lawmakers “failed to hear sufficient arguments” against the amendments.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili “failed to provide [solid] arguments” as well, according to Kobakhidze.

The Parliament Chairman also stressed that the ruling Georgian Dream party had “no political interests” regarding the bill, adding that it was important “to adopt the law, which will be beneficial for the development of the public broadcaster, on the one hand, and will not harm the interests of private broadcasters, on the other.”

The Parliamentary Chairman also expressed readiness to hold additional consultations on the amendments bill “in a broader format” with participation of GPB representatives and other lawmakers.

Majority MP calls on head of NDI Georgia Office to apologize

Irakli Mezurnishvili, member of the parliamentary majority, calls on the head of the NDI Georgia Office to apologize for her statement. Mezurnishvili responded to the statement made by Laura Thornton several days ago.

"I would like to respond to the public comment made by the head of the NDI office of Georgia, Mrs. Laura Thornton a few days ago that the US President cannot find Georgia on the map. So Mrs. Thornton claims that the president of our main strategic partner - the United States, which closely cooperates with our country, strongly supports Georgia's territorial integrity and strongly condemns the occupation of our country - does not even know where our borders are!? Regrettably, this ironic or unintentional comment promotes the idea that Georgia is so small and insignificant to the West that it cannot even be found on the map. Such irresponsible statements are insulting for both Georgia and the United States, especially from the head of the authoritative organization like NDI. I would like to remind Mrs. Thornton that NDI has expressed strong support for our country during the last 25 years. The role of this organization is very important in establishing and developing Georgia as a new democratic state. Georgia is always grateful to the people who are initiators and implementers of this support for Georgia - Mrs. Madeleine Albright, Mr. Kenneth Wollak and others, who always defended Georgia's interests. We have such friends in the current Senate, the House of Representatives and the Presidential Administration as well. It is absolutely unjustifiable such cynical statements to contribute to hostile attitudes and the narrative, according to which the US does not care for small countries like us, whereas the scales of partnership between the US and Georgia are increasing, Georgian and American soldiers are protecting peace and security in the anti-terrorist coalition format and the US political leadership takes vital decisions for Georgia. I appeal to the head of the NDI office to publicly apologize for this statement, because such statements serve only the interest of the enemy of the US and Georgia," said Mezurnishvili.

Laura Thornton posted a status on the social network a few days ago: "Last night, an Imedi journalist literally asked me whether the NDI intended to lobby the confrontation between the American president and Russia by asking a question about the US and Russian military forces to the respondents within a survey. I loudly laughed. With great likelihood, Trump cannot even find Georgia on the map, not to mention that he does not watch the results of our survey! But I like the assumption that we have such a big influence!".