Statement made by the Media Council of Georgia, independent journalists and the NGO’s regarding the fair and objective coverage of the January 5, 2008 Georgia Presidential Elections. Released on November 27, 2007.

29 Nov, 2007

In order to ensure informed choice by every citizen of Georgia during election campaign, fair opportunities for all presidential candidates as well as political stability and civil tranquility, Media Council, independent journalists and civil society representatives appeal to mass media, especially to the major TV media outlets except the guarantees, defined by legislation, to envisage the mentioned below speculations for an unbiased and fair coverage of the immediate political events of the presidential elections and post-elections period:

  1. To provide all major participants (presidential contenders) selected by the every objective criterion of presidential elections or their representatives with equal air time in scope of news programs or political talk shows;
  2. In order to fully inform voters about any particular presidential candidates policy, standing on some issues, initiatives, or due to any significant event, that places any candidate into center of public attention, it may be justified to offer him/her more coverage than to his/her other competitors, but in this case all other major candidates should be provided with same amount of air time immediately but not exceeding the period of one week.
  3. During pre-election all the media outlets should restrain from replicating the materials, broadcasted by government in recent times, regarding some candidates or their representatives’ cooperation with Russian special services;
  4. All media outlets, journalists should restrain from unchecked, unfounded accusations, facts, gossips’ replication, especially in those cases, when information of that kind can provoke violence, mass disorders or incitement to violence and disorders;
  5. During election campaign, beyond news programs and political talk shows, in fair conditions, TV broadcasters should offer to all main candidates or their representatives no less than three opportunities (three hours in total) to cover their meetings with electoral groups or any other event, they find necessary;
  6. In case of direct or indirect accusations against presidential candidate or their representatives, broadcasted by media outlets, those accused should be given opportunity to respond in the same media, as a rule, during the same program/media report;
  7. All main candidates or their representatives should be allowed by main media outlets to comment on political developments on daily basis;
  8. All media outlets, in case of practical applicability, should try to report on opinions of presidential candidates or their representatives based on primary sources;
  9. When organizing discussion programs (talk shows) media outlets should ensure balanced selection of the audience;
  10. While having random interviews of ordinary citizens (vox pops) broadcasted, media outlets should do their best to ensure balance/pluralism;
  11. Coverage of public polls should be made by media outlets only in case, if they are conducted in accordance with international standards and scientifically reliable methods, transparently and with naming the source of financing and ordering. It is necessary to organize pluralistic expert discussion around the poll results.
  12. It is desirable that in case of the will of presidential candidates, special consultative board of their representatives will be created, which will monitor and advice Georgian broadcasters.