Statement by Media Advocacy Coalition on Recent Developments around GPB

13 Mar, 2017

In response to the decisions made by the Board of Trustees of Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) following its session on March 7, 2017, the Media Advocacy Coalition notes:

  • Regretfully, the public broadcaster’s management and the Board of Trustees failed to ensure the publicity of issues planned to be discussed at the session. In particular, the broadcaster did not post on its website those draft documents, which were put on the agenda of its March 7 session. Thus, the groups interested in the issue were deprived of the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the documents and express their position, as well as to prepare remarks and comments;
  • The Board of Trustees approved amendments to its regulations by majority vote. But it remains unknown so far, why it became necessary to make amendments to the regulations on March 7, whereas July 17, 2017 is set as the date for enacting these amendments;
  • As confirmed at the session of the board, the broadcaster’s management could have announced a call for applications for new programs without making any amendments to the regulations. Against this background, it becomes more interesting actually what was a legitimate goal for making amendments to the regulations;
  • Despite a number of questions, the management representatives could not/did not specify at the board’s session potentially how many persons might suffer from the amendments to the regulations;
  • The Georgian Public Broadcaster’s new action plan released by the management does not represent a concrete action plan; it does not contain financial calculations and raises a lot of questions. It is not clear whether the existing programming will be assessed by the criteria developed by the Board of Trustees, or how these criteria will be used for assessing the submitted projects;
  • The new action plan does not provide a clear picture about the future of GPB’s Channel 2 and radio stations, as well as the issues of digitizing archival materials and outsourcing.

The Media Advocacy Coalition calls on the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Board of Trustees and management to protect labor and legal rights of those working for the broadcaster and to ensure the transparency of processes ongoing in the television as well as the publicity of planned competitions.