TBILISI, DFWatch – A leading lawmaker in Georgia has modified a statement he made yesterday, that the government will support a proposal from democracy campaigners.
Speaker of Parliament Davit Bakradze yesterday said he and the ruling National Movement party will vote for a proposal meant to make the media more diverse, when the measure comes up in parliament next week, but make it only a temporary law until the parliamentary and presidential elections are over.
All three national TV channels in Georgia are strongly pro-government, and although there exist other media they are not able to get distribution.
Newly launched Channel 9 which is affiliated with the main opposition bloc Georgian Dream Thursday night suffered a major setback as its distributor’s offices around the country were raided by police, and 300 000 satellite dishes were confiscated.
The new law will force cable companies to include all channels in their packages. It will also force TV channels to let all cable companies carry their signal.
Bakradze said such a measure is contrary to free business, but acknowledged that the ruling party also voted for a law that will force commercial TV channels to show political advertisements without getting paid for it, which is also a form of government interference in free enterprise.
Campaigners want the so-called must-carry and must-offer principles enforced permanently.