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Opposition Slams Majority for Overriding Presidential veto

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, February 23
Georgian parliamentary opposition parties criticize the ruling Georgian Dream majority for overriding President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s veto on the amendments to the Broadcasting Law on February 21.

The Law on Broadcasting was adopted by the parliament in late December 2017 but vetoed by the president the following month.

The changes enable state-financed Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) right to release commercials on working days in order to generate more money for development.

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.

Furthermore, the restrictions provided through the Law on State Procurements will no longer apply to programs, films, and TV series aired by the GPB as well as to resources which are needed for making such products.

As a result of the amendments, the powers of the nine-member Board of Trustees are reduced and now they will need the Director General’s consent to carry out reforms.

The GPB funding increases along with the country’s budget. Last year it was financed by Gel 44.5 million, while this year the funding has amounted to 52.100 million.

Just several days before the parliament session, 60 media organizations addressed the parliament not to override the veto, claiming the law would worsen media environment and put private media outlets, whose main income is commercials, into unequal conditions.

However, on February 21, the majority MPs did not take into account the calls of the media and non-governmental sector and with 83 votes overrode the veto.

Opposition the United National Movement (UNM) says by not taking the president’s remarks into account, the ruling party ignored the positions of the whole opposition, NGOs and media representatives.

“We will end up with a channel of a political party, the monster that swallows up our money. This is the way forward to forming a one-party television,” Roman Gotsiridze from the UNM stressed.

Parliamentary minority European Georgia says the decision of the GD will harm free media outlets and the GPB itself.

“By adopting this law, the majority gave GPB a new function – oppression of free media market,” one of the leaders of the party, Sergo Ratiani said.

Georgia’s Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze responded to the allegations, saying the legislative body will monitor developments at GPB for a year and in case of negative effects of the newly-adopted law, the issue will be re-considered.

President’s Advisor Pikria Chikhradze says they are concerned that the ruling party openly opposes the president.

“Whatever the president says, the majority claims it is wrong. It is a sad reality and many other overridden vetoes prove this,” she added.