Brief Overview of the Measures to Improve Media Environment

23 Oct, 2012

NGO coalition asks for action on media independence

Media Advocacy Coalition unites 12 non-governmental organizations aiming at improving media environment and protecting the standards of freedom of expression. Over the course of one year the member organizations of the Coalition worked together to achieve the set objectives. We have developed and submitted number of legal initiatives and recommendations to the authorities. In some cases the former government has reviewed and accepted our initiatives. Yet, more legal amendments and practical steps are to be taken on number of outstanding issues.

With respect to each topic described below, member organizations have developed specific proposals and projects, and we hope that the new members of the Parliament and the Government of Georgia will cooperate with us closely towards the improvement of media environment.

1.  Formation and Development of Public Broadcaster as an Independent Broadcaster

The Parliament of Georgia should request the State Audit Office to carry out unplanned audit of the Public Broadcaster’s activities and to present the results to the Parliament of Georgia and the general public. The urgency to carry out this measure was demonstrated by the recent developments: a) writing off the tax liabilities of the Public Broadcaster; and b) a conflict between the television company PIK and the managing company Alania.

Prior to the launch of the state audit, the Public Broadcaster should disclose its financial expenses, the contract with the managing company of PIK television, and other important documents.

We believe that one of the important means for transforming Public Broadcaster into a truly independent broadcasting company is to revise the Law on Broadcasting with regard to the procedure for forming the Supervisory Board.

2.  MUST CARRY and MUST OFFER Regulations under the Law on Broadcasting

In recent years cable operators refused to include in their packages some broadcasters operating in Georgia. Technical problems were named as an official reason for the refusal; however, it was clear that the transmission problems for the critical-minded media were generated artificially, whereas pro-government channels were transmitted nation-wide.

Prior to 2012 elections, by the vigorous demand of the civil sector the Parliament of Georgia  amended the Election Code and adopted MUST CARRY and MUST OFFER regulations, which secured airing of general broadcasters (television companies producing public-political programs and news) by all operators (cable companies, satellite and Internet operators). However, the regulations were introduced only for the pre-election period of two months.  

We believe that in view of the European and international practice, respective regulations need to become part of media legislation such as the Law on Broadcasting and the Law on Electronic Communication.

3.  Transparency of the Judicial System

It is crucial to restore the right to make photo, video and audio recordings in the court. This will enhance public trust in the Judiciary. Coalition member organizations have developed the draft of the legal amendment and we encourage the Parliament to review it promptly.

4.  Freedom of Information – Access to Information

On August 30, 2011 Georgia joined Open Government Partnership. As part of this international initiative the Government of Georgia undertook an obligation to introduce the best practices of transparency and open governing. In April 2012, the Ministry of Justice of Georgia published country’s action plan for the Open Government Partnership, which was actively discussed with the Georgian civil sector. The authorities have taken into account some of our proposals. We believe the action plan for the Open Government Partnership should focus on the set of significant issues such as: securing open governing and proactive disclosure of information, improvement of relevant legislation, creation of transparent public service, securing transparency of public finances, including the creation of an effective system for informing the public about budgetary planning and expenses, development of effective mechanisms of civic engagement, etc.

5.  Transition to Digital Broadcasting

Despite Georgia’s international commitment to digital switch-over in 2015, very little has been done in the country with this regard. Digital transition is more than a technical issue and it should be implemented in the context of securing media pluralism and protecting the interests of the audience. The process of digitization in Georgia’s conflict regions deserves special attention. Until now the Government of Georgia has not publicized strategic plan for digital transition.

To facilitate timely launch of the process, we believe it is essential to create the ad hoc commission, comprised of the representatives and experts of government agencies (the Ministry of Economy, National Communications Commission, etc.), as well as broadcasting companies and NGOs working on media issues.

6. Legal Status of Adjara Television

Under the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting, the status of the television was to be determined until November 2011, but the status of the Adjara television is undetermined up to date. It is important that the respective amendment is introduced in the Law.

7. Improving the Standards of Communication with Media by the Public Officials and Public Agencies

For several years, the access to public information and communication with public officials has been a key problem for the Georgian journalists, especially when reporting on the activities of the President, other high-ranking officials and even the local government representatives. Journalists have been filing complaints to investigatory bodies on the facts of violence and illegal hindrance of journalistic activities during reporting, however, no response had been provided. On many occasions the authorities have exercised selective approach towards media outlets during official media events. It is crucial that investigatory bodies launch the investigation of individual cases and disclose its results. In addition, the practice of discriminatory approach towards media outlets must be eradicated.

8. Revising the Functions and Procedure for Formation of the National Communications Commission

Existing practice has demonstrated that regardless of high legislative guarantees, the National Communications Commission could not establish itself as a truly independent body. We believe the new procedure for forming the Commission must be developed, number of functions must be revised and powers determined.


1.   OSGF – Open Society Georgia Foundation

2.   GYLA – Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association

3. Transparency International Georgia

4. Civic Development Institute

5.Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters

6.Georgian Regional Media Association

7.Regional Broadcasters Network

8.The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics

9.Media Club

10. NGO for Civil Society

11. Levan Mikeladze Foundation

12. IDFI –  Institute for Development of Freedom of Information


NGO coalition asks for action on media independence,, by DFWatch staff, Oct 19, 2012.