Monitoring Editorial Policy of TV News Programs
February 1-29, 2016
The subjects of monitoring: Rustavi 2, Imedi, Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), Maestro, Tabula and GDS (main news programs).
Monitoring methodology: see http://mdfgeorgia.ge/geo/view_news/415.
Monitoring of the main news programs for February 1-29 has revealed the following tendencies:
Tendency of political news coverage
- In February, like in January, similar tendencies of political news coverage by TV channels subject to monitoring were revealed in news programs aired by Imedi TV, Georgian Public Broadcaster and GDS. The news programs aired by the mentioned televisions mostly covered the government’s activities. The stories involved the government’s new initiatives and official visits. Rustavi 2 TV and Tabula provided less intensive coverage of the government’s activities.
- Compared to other TV channels, GDS and Imedi dedicated more airtime to the stories critical of opposition. Some topics involved criticism of former government officials. Only Imedi and GDS aired the story covering the visit of a representative of the Ukrainian opposition party Ukrop. GDS dedicated its airtime to this issue on February 8. In the story, Ukrainian MP expressed desire to familiarize himself with the criminal cases against ex-President Saakashvili and other former Georgian officials now working in Ukraine and accused them of corruption. Imedi covered the topic in its news program on February 11.
- The stories covering opposition’s activities were intensively covered by Rustavi 2 and Tabula. GDS, Maestro and Georgian Public Broadcaster dedicated less airtime to similar stories in their news programs. See chart
Important topics of public interest omitted by televisions’ primetime news programs in February are provided in infographics No 1. Below is a detailed description of these topics:
Infographics No 1
Available at http://bit.ly/1RjzlW5
Bidzina Ivanishvili/Protests against tree relocation
Relocation of 100-year-old trees from the Tsikhisdziri Botanical Garden to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s dendrological park in February triggered a wave of protests from local population, environmental organizations and opposition. The facts of arresting protesters were covered by all news programs except GDS. The latter dedicated its airtime to the Tsikhisdziri issue in the February 18 news program and covered the topic in the context of the previous government’s responsibility. The story covered investigation on alienation of a disputable territory in Tsikhisdziri by Mikheil Saakashvili. Rustavi 2, Imedi and GPB integrated the issue into the stories related to protests against tree relocation. GDS covered the topic as a separate story and focused on the details of investigation, while picketing against tree relocation and the facts of arresting protesters were not covered by GDS news programs.
Nepotism in Georgian Dream/Dismissal of CEC Employees
Dismissal of employees from the Central Election Commission (CEC) and opposition’s nepotism allegations against the ruling coalition’s top officials during February 8-15 were not covered only by the main news programs of Imedi and GDS. Basing on property declarations, some representatives of the parliamentary minority group accused GD’s top officials (Kutsnashvili, Khmaladze, Kordzaia, Zhorzholiani, Mgebrishvili, Khaduri, Kumsishvili) of appointing their relatives and family members in various government agencies.
Leakage of Judge Certification Tests from High Council of Justice
On February 12, Maestro and GDS news programs did not air the story covering criticism expressed by the President and NGO sector over the process of appointment of judges in the High Council of Justice after some wrongdoings were revealed in the process of judge certification exams. Despite the civil society’s protest, on February 12 the High Council of Justice approved 22 judges; 8 seats still remain vacant.
On February 25, Rustavi 2, Maestro and Tabula aired the story about launching investigation by the prosecutor’s office on the fact of alleged rigging of exam results. This topic was not covered by Imedi TV, GPB and GDS.
Court Hearing on Lawsuit Filed by Rustavi 2 and Sakartvelo TV
Rustavi 2, Imedi and Georgian Public Broadcaster aired the story about completion of the Constitutional Court’s hearing on February 18 concerning the lawsuit filed by Rustavi 2 and Sakartvelo TV. The four-judge panel studied the constitutional nature of those provisions based on which Judge Tamaz Urtmelidze ordered to appoint temporary managers of Rustavi 2 TV.
On February 24, only Rustavi 2, Maestro and Tabula covered the story in their news programs about Rustavi 2 TV’s lawsuit filed with the Constitutional Court demanding annulment of the clause on “immoral deal.”
Eka Mishveladze’s Dismissal from Georgian Public Broadcaster
Only GPB, Maestro and GDS covered in their evening news programs the issue of dismissal of Eka Mishveladze, the author and host of talk show Pirveli Studio, from the public television. After Eka Mishveladze demanded explanations from the broadcaster’s director, she received an official letter about her dismissal from GPB.
Tightening Police Control in Regions
On February 19, Imedi, Maestro and GDS aired the story about tightening police control in the regions, where police officers started to check not only driving licenses, but also vehicles.
- In terms of reporting on priority topics, in February similar tendencies were observed in Rustavi 2 and Tabula. Imedi, GPB and Maestro prioritized different issues. It should be noted that due to the recent developments in Maestro TV, during the month the TV channel dedicated its new programs to the issue of redistribution of shares and various developments related to this topic.
- Rustavi 2 and Tabula dedicated the first and second stories in their first block to the fact of arresting the representatives of Guerilla Gardening and the National Movement during the rally against relocation of 100-year-old trees from the Tsikhisdziri Botanical Garden. Maestro covered the issue as the eighth story in the first block, GPB – as the seventh story in the second block and Imedi - as the 11th story in the second block.
- Rustavi 2 and Tabula dedicated the first and second stories of the first block, respectively, to the fact of arresting two members of the Kobuleti local council by police during the protest rally in Tsikhisdziri on February 12. Imedi and GPB covered the issue in the 12th stories of their respective second and third blocks. Among the priority topics covered by Imedi TV on February 12 were the Munich Security Conference, migrant crisis and European security. On the same day, GPB prioritized the issue of missing persons in Samegrelo, while Maestro focused on redistribution of shares in the TV channel.
- The issue of supporting Eva Gotsiridze’s candidacy for the ECHR membership by the government and expressing criticism towards the same candidate by the civil society organizations and Public Defender was covered by GPB less intensively on February 29. While Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Tabula and GDS covered the topic in the first blocks of their respective news programs, GPB covered the issue as the tenth story in its third block.
- The TV channels subject to monitoring, except Georgian Public Broadcaster, covered the issue of nominating Giorgi Mikautadze by Levan Murusidze as the chairman of the Tbilisi City Court in the first blocks of their news programs. Rustavi 2 reported on the topic in its second story, Imedi and Tabula – third story, GDS – fourth story and Maestro – seventh story. GPB covered the topic as the ninth story in the third block.
- The government-initiated project, envisaging transfer of unregistered land lots to the state ownership, was covered by Rustavi 2, GPB, Tabula and GDS news programs. Rustavi 2 and Tabula covered the issue as the fourth stories in the first block; GDS covered the issue as the sixth story in the first block and GPB – as the ninth story in the third block.
In February, TV channels reported on the following independent topics in their evening news programs:
Grave condition of fire services; faulty equipment in Kakheti
Delayed compensations for the June 13 flood victims
Married schoolchildren, early marriage in Georgia
The condition of mosques in Samtskhe-Javakheti
Lifting the status of a mountain village from the village of Zemo Skhvilisi in Akhaltsikhe
Abkhazian language lessons in Samegrelo
Problems of boundary villages
The amount of debts increases in shops
A new hospital project in Rukhi
Gasification of 60 villages in a resort area
Only a half of the public defender’s recommendations were fulfilled last year
Donation of 102 vehicles to the State Security Service