TBILISI, DFWatch – Christian Democrats has asked City Hall to directly transfer a hundred booths to newspapers and distributors within the framework of the project ‘1000 booths’.

Zaza Gabunia, Christian Democrats representative in Tbilisi City Council, said this at a press conference November 25. He added that if Tbilisi City Hall doesn’t do this, the recent initiative to clear away newspaper booths will be an ‘attack on the free media.’

Tbilisi City Hall announced an internet bidding contest for a contract to place 1 000 kiosks around the capital, explained as an effort to support small and middle sized businesses.

It is clear from the announcement that Tbilisi City Hall mainly wants to locate the new booths exactly in places where there already are newspaper kiosks. This has caused concern among representatives of the press, except for a few pro-governmental newspapers. According to managers of print media, the distribution of newspapers is in the serious danger and this will benefit neither the press nor for the government nor the wider society.

The Christian Democrats say they have requested the City Hall to establish special concessions for newspaper owners and distributors, so that they will be able to compete with the other companies within the framework of the bidding contest. But according to them, ‘instead of this the government exacerbated the situation and made it even more difficult for them.’

“The campaign against the newspaper kiosks may be seen as a deliberate move against the print media. I don’t want to believe in it, so we appeal to Tbilisi City hall with the following: Directly transfer 100 booths within the project of ‘1000 booths’ to the newspaper owners and distributors without any tender conditions,” Gabunia said.

According to him, the Christian Democrats representatives will meet with Deputy Mayor Giorgi Tskhakaia in the next week regarding this issue and will introduce this initiative to him.

“If City Hall rejects our proposal than the current events against newspaper kiosks will be seen as an attack on the free media,” Gabunia added.