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Private TVs, NGOs Draft Plan for Georgia’s Public Broadcaster

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, February 5
TBILISI — Georgia’s private televisions, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and public representatives held a meeting about the recent developments in Georgia’s state-financed Public Broadcaster (GPB) and set up a 6-point plan to improve situation in public TV.

The participants of the meeting stated that fundamental changes are necessary in GPB in order to maintain stable and fair media environment in Georgia and adequately spend budgetary founds, allocated every year for the GPB.

In late December 2017, Georgian parliament adopted amendments to the broadcasting law, according to which GPB will have more independency and power and also right of commercial advertising.

As a result of the amendments, the broadcaster will no longer have to announce public procurement calls when purchasing media products or services, as it has been lifted from its obligation to observe the Law on Public Procurement. Also, The GPBwill no longer have to return unused funds to the state budget.

On January 15, 2018, the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the amendments to the broadcasting law.

Later in January, Georgian media outlets and NGOs called on the parliament of Georgia not to override President’s veto, adding the amendments pose threat to the stability of private media outlets and needs further consideration.

TV Caucasus Director General, Nino Jangirashvili stated it is obvious that the GPB is in crisis.

“We, the meeting participants, agreed that we need to solve the problem. Every member of our society should get interested where the money, paid by us to the GPB, goes,” she added.

Executive Director of the Regional Broadcasting Association, NatiaKupreishvili says the State Audit Office has questions regarding the money spending in GPB.

“The Audit Office said the public broadcaster has no advertising policy or standards in this regard. The Audit also notedthat the Board does not carry out proper monitoring of the developments in GPB,” said Lupreishvili.

EkaGigauri, Chair of the NGO Transparency International – Georgia, said the six-point plan, developed by the meeting participants, will be publicized in the near future.

She noted that Coordination Council will be set up in order to return the Public Broadcaster to the public.

“The Public Broadcaster is not the broadcaster of the board or any certain political party. It is the public channel... We think that it is necessary to take some important steps,” Gigauri said, adding that the whole society should be involved in the discussions over GPB.

Meanwhile, NGO Sapari Executive Director, Baia Pataraia calls on Public Broadcaster Director General, Vasil Maghlaperidze, to resign.

“We want to revive the public broadcaster. First of all, Maglaperidze must resign and in-depth reforms should be carried out in order to return to GPB to the public,” Pataraia stressed.

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.