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Parliamentary Committee Fails to Agree on Presidentís Remarks on Public Broadcaster

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, February 15
(TBILISI)--Georgian Parliamentís Economic Committee did not fully support the presidentís motivated remarks on the amendments to the Law on Broadcasting. Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the planned changes in favor of Georgiaís Public Broadcaster (GPB) in mid-January.

Four committee members supported the presidentís remarks, which stand against allowing the GPB to attract commercials, while four others went against the presidentís view.

Another meeting will be needed in the committee to make a final decision over the remarks.

Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, has announced that the next meeting with representatives of media organizations regarding the amendments for GPB will be held at the end of the week, as most private broadcasters protest new rights for the public media outlet.

Kobakhidze stated that the meeting will decide whether the parliament can override the president's veto.

"I had a meeting with media organizations two weeks ago and I promised them to hold another meeting with the participation of media organizations and the Public Broadcaster.

ďThe promise will be fulfilled. We will supposedly hold a meeting by the end of this week, where we will once again ask both sides to present their arguments regarding the bill and the parliament will decide whether to override the veto," Kobakhidze said.

Presidentís Parliamentary Secretary Ana Natsvlishvili stated that the amendments to the Law on Broadcasting may question the idea and essence of the Public Broadcaster.

"Today it is critical for Georgian citizens to have an independent, strong and professional Public Broadcaster and also strong commercial media outlets. Unfortunately, this law will not solve the challenges faced by the Public Broadcaster today.

ďOn the contrary, this law may even question the idea and essence of the Public Broadcaster. At the same time, this law is a very serious problem to other media outlets and creates risks of corruption", - said Natsvlishvili.

Margvelashvili vetoed the amendments to the Law on Broadcasting, which intended to boost the rights of GPB, the only TV channel in Georgia receiving more than 50 million GEL state financing annually, on January 15, 2018.

The amendments adopted by parliament in December 2017 enable GPB to release commercials on working days in order to generate more money for development, which was labeled a "forceful strikeĒ by almost all private broadcasters in the country.

The changes read that the GBP can redirect the input of state financing for encouraging start-up businesses, TV-radio and online products.

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 also not expand to programs, films, and TV series aired by the GPB as well as to resources which are needed for making such products.