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Don’t hesitate, says democracy campaign in Georgia

by | May 22, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch – A pro-democracy campaign in Georgia calls on the Saakashvili regime to not stall a negotiated deal intended to secure a more fair election in October.

The campaign sent a letter appealing to the president and speaker of parliament to start reviewing the proposed amendments as soon as possible, because they believe these amendments will significantly improve the election environment in the country.

The campaign This Affects You too started in February 2012 to modify a set of legislative changes the government made in the end of 2011, as preparation for the upcoming parliament elections expected to be held in early October 2012.

After a series of negotiations with parliament lawmakers, the group achieved their first breakthrough in April, when parliament passed a set of modification that the campaign had advocated.

But there still remained issues, and on May 7, the campaign was revived for a second effort. Now media and law organizations suggested amendments to improve the media environment before the elections.

“We consider that these amendments will put media-organizations in equal conditions; it will also provide equal rights for election subjects during election campaign and Georgian citizens will have opportunity to equal access to TV media. This will help voters to make informed choice on up-coming parliament elections.” Appeal says.

72 media organizations are signatories to the appeal: 26 TV companies, 24 newspapers, 8 news websites, 11 organizations working in regards to media and three independent journalists.

The issues are addressed in this second set of amendments are: A clear definition of what a hidden political advertisement is, rules for placing paid and free political advertisements, to impose obligations on cable networks to carry broadcasters with a public, community or general license, and to prohibit the national TV companies from switching off the cable networks.

“If these amendments are adopted it will be a big step forward for democracy and really useful to the media,’ Mamuka Glonti, co-founder of Maestro TV, said today at a press conference at Marriott Hotel. ‘This will be serious test for government.’

He says that if the ruling party doesn’t pass these amendments, this means that the government doesn’t want to conduct transparent elections.

Lasha Tughushi, editor of the daily newspaper Rezonansi and co-author of the amendments, says that the alternative changes, if passed, would represent a significant change in the media environment ahead of elections.

“There will be equality for media organizations – everywhere in the regions and in Tbilisi.”

A second important point he focuses on is that it will be impossible for the government to spend money out of view of the public. Expenses will become transparent in regards to media.

“These amendments, if adopted, will solve the problems in re-broadcasting. A TV company like Maestro will have the opportunity to broadcast in the regions and via cable networks which today refuse to carry them in their network,” says Tugushi.



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