TBILISI, DFWatch – A democracy campaign in Georgia expresses concern about the order to switch off Channel 9, a TV station owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s wife.
The campaign This Affects You Too is also concerned about the switching off of radios in minibuses in Tbilisi and have sent an appeal to Parliament about the two issues.
The government says radios in minbuses were switched off because of an agreement signed between the companies which own minibuses and advertising companies.
When it comes to Channel 9, their broadcast signal was suspended, because Stereo+ – company which transmits the signal, doesn’t have a license. However, the owner of the company denies that this is the case and says that the company has had such a license for years and has been transmitting the signal of several national channels without any problems.
Members of This Affects You Too says that as a result of these two developments, “Georgian citizens are restricted from access to various information sources, even if in certain cases such decisions can be found having some legal grounds.”
Campaigners focus on that it happens just when civil society and the international community raised the issue of the population’s access to information and support for a diverse media environment. This is confirmed by the fact that Hillary Clinton, who recently visited Georgia, called on the Georgian government to provide independence and access to media; also John Bass, US Ambassador to Georgia and diplomats of other countries expressed their positions on the necessity to provide Georgian citizens with access to a diverse and free media.
The campaigners’ letter says it is important to establish the principles of ‘must-carry’ and ‘must-offer’ from the legislative proposals which organizations registered in Parliament on May 7.
The letter also says that international practice shows that having these principles provides the population with access to various channels and diverse information. This will avoid it becoming an issue whether people have been sufficiently informed during the election campaign and problems with media pluralism.
“We think that without solving these problems, it is impossible to conduct democratic and free elections. So we call on you to act, taking into account the interests of society and voters and not to to restrict the dissemination of any kind of media in any form; we call on you to in the nearest future establish the principles of must-carry and must-offer in the legislation that regulates the activity of media; to foresee positions of the international community and also recommendations about the necessity of having a pluralistic media in the country.”