Legislative Package of Draft Laws on Improvement of Media Environment Presented to Diplomatic Corps

18 Nov, 2010

The legislative package of draft laws, which calls for the improvement of the media environment, was officially submitted to the Parliament of Georgia on November 12.  On the same day, authors introduced the package  to the diplomatic corps and officials of international organizations.

A group of lawyers and journalists (Lasha Tugushi, Vakhtang Khmaladze, Eliso Chapidze, Giorgi Chkheidze and Nino Danelia) started developing the package of proposals in July 2010 as part of the Analysis and Improvement of Media Environment project supported by the Open Society Georgia Foundation.

On November 12, along with the package proposal of the group, a legislative proposal prepared by the Parliament Committee for Legal Affairs of Georgia, was also submitted to Parliament.   The committee came up with the proposal following the October 26 statement of David Bakradze, the chairman of Parliament, that the government should secure the transparency of media holders.

The bill prepared by media experts, will have an impact on eight legislative acts, General Administrative Code and the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting.  “Draft amendments secure the resolution of those problems that are related to the concentration and transparency of media ownership, financial transparency, the conflict of interests, access to public information and the conflict of interests of members of the Georgian National Communications Commission”, said Lasha Tugushi, the coordinator of the group and the editor of The Rezonansi newspaper.  Special focus is made on the participation of a broadcasting license holder in the property from offshore zones.

The government’s proposed draft calls for making amendments only to the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting.  According to the draft, a broadcast license holder cannot be a legal entity in which more than 10% of shares are owned by offshore-registered entity.  “If the government focuses on one issue alone, we will continue cooperation with them to assure that other issues raised by us are also important,” Nino Danelia said.

On November 12, at a meeting held in the Courtyard Marriott Hotel, diplomats emphasized the need for cooperation between the government and the civil sector on issues of improving media environment. Kent Logsdon, the Deputy US ambassador to Georgia said: “Cooperation of the government with the group and NGOs and consideration of the proposal of the group is important.  Only such dialogue could contribute to the improvement of media environment.  The media should become more independent and accessible”.

Hellen Darbishire, an International media expert and Access into Europe Executive Director, welcomes the fact that the draft proposals focus on access to information.  “The proposed amendment to the Administrative Code on access to information proves especially important.  This would contribute to the transparency of media owners and the development of open and accessible media for citizens”.

See details regarding the legislative package of draft laws in Media Advisory.

Watch, listen to and read Georgian media reports on the legislative package.

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