TBILISI, DFWatch – The ruling party in Georgia has postponed until spring to decide how to monitor the media before next election in ten months time.
If things stay the same, the national TV networks will have the same opportunities as last time.
During the local elections in 2010, media monitoring was conducted with the support of the EU, and the report clearly indicates that the news coverage in the national networks was supportive of the government, violating standards regarding secret advertising, unbalanced programs, unequal conditions and other things.
A group of media workers presented parliament with a proposal for how to address this problem. It suggests having a comprehensive media monitoring group before every election.
They also demand new regulations to separate news and advertising items, so as to avoid secret advertising of candidates. Hidden political ads may have a bigger influence on society than clearly defined advertising.
Another demand is to have a clear definition of what secret advertising is and to establish sanctions in case of violations. The group also thinks that during the election campaign, the state should compensate the expenses for political advertising, so that the parties will not have to bear the cost themselves. The compensation paid to private TV companies should be based on current price levels for commercials.
Levan Vepkhvadze, a representative of opposition Christian Democrats, claims that the government promised them to return to these issues in the spring session and that there might be made changes in the law on broadcasting.
Pavle Kublashvili, representative of the ruling National Movement party, confirms what Vepkhvadze says, but also remarks that it’s unacceptable for the government to make any more changes to the election code.