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Reporters without Borders: Georgian Media Pluralist, but Very Polarised

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 27
Georgia’s media are pluralist but still very polarized, International, non-profit organisation Reporters without Borders (RWB) stated in its latest-2018 media freedom report.

The 2018 World Press Freedom Index for Georgia is 61, while it was 64 in 2017.

“The reforms of recent years have brought improvements in media ownership transparency and satellite TV pluralism, but owners still often call the shots on editorial content,” the report reads.

The report states that the outcome of the continuing dispute over ownership of the main national opposition TV channel, Rustavi 2, will therefore have a big impact.

“Violence against journalists is less frequent, although threats are often reported,” Reporters without Borders say.

The organisation stated that Georgia has traditionally offered a refuge to dissidents from neighboring countries, so Azerbaijani dissident journalist Afgan Mukhtarli’s abduction in Tbilisi in 2017 sent shockwaves through the exile community.

“He mysteriously reappeared in police custody in Azerbaijan, where he was sentenced to six years in prison on trumped-up charges. Two senior Georgian security officials were fired but Georgia’s investigation into Mukhtarli’s abduction has yet to produce any convincing explanation of how it happened,” the report reads.

Mukhtarli says that he was abducted with the help of Georgian law enforcers, the allegation strongly dismissed by the government of Georgia.

The RWB are based on a questionnaire sent to partner organizations of Reporters without Borders (14 freedom of expression groups in five continents) and its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists.

The survey asks questions about direct attacks on journalists and the media as well as other indirect sources of pressure against free press.

RWB is careful to note that the index only deals with press freedom, and does not measure the quality of journalism.