TBILISI, DFWatch — Civic groups in Georgia Friday presented an eight-point plan for how to improve the media environment in the country.

Coalition for Media Advocacy, which unites twelve non-government organizations (NGOs), considers it important to make the must-carry principle of broadcasting permanent. This is important to restore the right to film and take photos in court rooms, to make the public broadcaster independent, and to provide free access to information, the organization argues.

October 19, the coalition presented its proposal and expressed readiness to cooperate with the future parliament and government.

The first step toward improvement in the media environment the group says is that the State Audit Office studies the activity of the Public Broadcaster and presents its results to the parliament and government, so as to review the GPB’s regulations.

In this election year, the government agreed to introduce the must-carry and must-offer principles, which provided access to diverse media all over the country. But the principles were established only for the 60 last days of the election campaign and expired before Election Day.

Apart from making these principles a permanent part of the legislation, and allowing filming and photography inside courtrooms, the coalition wants to guarantee access to public information by creating a transparent public service, and an effective system so that society will be informed about issues like budget spending.

Another proposal is for Georgia to make the transition to digital broadcasting, which is not only a technical issue, but also has implications for democracy.

The sixth demand is to clarify the legal status of certain broadcasters like Adjara TV. https://dfwatch.net/adjara-tv-broadcasting-in-violation-of-the-law-54543

The coalition also asks to investigate incidents of interruption of journalists’ work and violations of their rights, and to get rid of a discriminatory approach towards media outlets. As DF Watch has repeatedly reported about journalists who have been restricted from covering certain issues, or attending the government’s official meetings, and have been thrown out from public buildings.

Another suggested change is to make the National Communication Commission a really independent body.