Tbilisi, DFWatch – OSCE supports a draft law to reform Georgia’s public broadcaster, but has some critical remarks.

The organization’s media freedom representative, Dunja Mijatović, thinks the amendments of the law on broadcasting can provide for pluralism and transparency in the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB). However, she says the draft of the law doesn’t say how to manage the transition period from the current board of trustees to the new one.

Mijatović expressed the organization’s views on the reform in a letter to Maia Panjikidze, Georgia’s Foreign Affairs Minister.

The draft, which was prepared by local media experts, involves a few changes in how to staff the board of trustees. The lawmakers argue it is done to depoliticize GPB, which for many years has been perceived as supportive of the Saakashvili government, despite receiving training and advice from a prestigious media organization like the BBC.

“The proposed amendments improve the current law, ensuring greater pluralism and transparency in the work of the public broadcaster. This is also achieved by redefining the tasks, duties and appointment procedure of the Director General and the Board of Trustees,” Mijatović notes. “It is also very positive that the public broadcaster will have a new obligation to carry the signal of other broadcasters as part of its network.”

But on the negative side she remarks that the bill lacks transitional provisions for the time period before a new board is appointed.

Mijatović’s letter is based on recommendations by Professor Katrin Nyman Metcalf, a media legal expert.

The draft bill for amending the law on broadcasting was prepared by the three local media experts: Lasha Tughushi, Zviad Koridze and Tamar Kordzaia.

It is criticized by the opposition United National Movement, with MP Davit Darchiashivli saying the president might veto it.

However, recent experience with the new parliament showed that the ruling coalition can simply overturn his veto, as it did with the amnesty law.