Monitoring Editorial Policy of TV News Programs
April 1-30, 2016
The subjects of monitoring: Rustavi 2, Imedi, Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), Maestro, Tabula, Kavkasia and GDS (main news programs).
Monitoring methodology: see http://mdfgeorgia.ge/eng/view_news/415/
Monitoring of the main news programs for April 1-30 has revealed the following tendencies:
Tendency of reporting on priority topics
The activities of Georgian Dream ruling coalition member parties, the intention of Republican Party and National Forum to run separately in the upcoming elections, consultations on the date of the 2016 parliamentary elections, student protests at Tbilisi State University and Georgian Technical University, EU visa liberalisation process, as well as NDI and IRI-commissioned pre-election polls were among the priority topics covered by the televisions subject to monitoring in April. These topics were covered by all televisions subject to monitoring. Moreover, official visits paid by the Georgian President, the Prime Minister and other officials to various foreign countries in April were also covered comprehensively.
Infographics No 1
Available at http://bit.ly/1WGlr8I
Referendum question on definition of the concept of family
All TV channels but GDS covered the story about the constitutional amendment initiated by the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority group to define marriage as union of a man and a woman. Sponsors of the initiative demand holding of a referendum on the proposed initiative simultaneously with the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Vazha Leluashvili’s possible links with Georgian Dream
Only GDS news program did not cover the story about possible links of Vazha Leluashvili, who was arrested on charges related to secretly recorded sex videos, with Georgian Dream.
Other televisions reported on Vazha Leluashvili’s arrest in their stories aired on April 8, involving his participation in Georgian Dream’s election campaign and various forms of cooperation with this party.
Abolition of utility vouchers
On April 18-22, Imedi and Maestro primetime news programs did not cover the story, where the opposition accused the Tbilisi City Hall of possible abolition of social utility vouchers. The story involved the allegations made by the opposition United National Movement party, according to which the Tbilisi City Hall was going to abolish utility vouchers following the October parliamentary elections.
Agreement with Gazprom
On April 7, all televisions except Maestro covered the story related to signing an agreement with Russian energy giant Gazprom following several months of negotiations. According to the agreement, Georgia will still receive Russian gas under the long-standing terms involving paying Tbilisi 10% of Russian gas transported to Armenia via Georgia.
Bitcoin mining company
On April 6-12, only Rustavi 2, Georgian Public Broadcaster and Tabula dedicated their airtime to the story about bitcoin mining company. The story was about the company located in Gldani district of Tbilisi, which is producing virtual currency. The area occupied by the company is known as Free Industrial Zone that provides preferential tax treatment to the company. The United National Movement held a briefing to raise the issue of possible links between the company BitFury and Bidzina Ivanishvili. Later the industrial zone operator denied any links with ex-Prime Minister Ivanishvili.
Justice Minister’s meeting with inter-party group
On April 19, all televisions except Rustavi 2 covered in their primetime news programs the meeting between Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani and the inter-party group of non-parliamentary opposition. The inter-party group met with Tsulukiani to discuss the issue of electoral reform, which, along with other changes, envisages replacing majoritarian component with regional-proportional system.
GHN Releases Georgian Dream’s Internal Public Opinion Survey
Imedi and GDS news programs did not air the story about Georgian Dream’s internal public opinion survey released by GHN news agency. GHN said that the survey was an inner-party document; however, Georgian Dream coalition members denied any links with the survey. It should be noted that the authenticity as well as the source of the released survey has not been specified. Therefore, neglecting this version of the public opinion survey by televisions is justified in terms of professional standards.
Arrest of Bagdati Gamgebeli
On April 25, only GDS news program did not cover the story about the arrest of Irakli Gegeshidze, head of Bagdati municipality (Gamgebeli) by the Anti-Corruption Agency of the State Security Service. Gegeshidze was charged with abuse of power and misappropriation of a large amount of state funds.
According to the investigation, Gegeshidze violated the terms of the agreement on rehabilitation of a part of the Bagdati-Zegani-Sakraula road.
Bidzina Ivanishvili and Davit Kezerashvili in Panama Papers
In April, all news programs aired the story about the list of people named in the Panama Papers as shareholders, directors and beneficiaries of offshore companies. However, GDS news program neglected the fact that the list also contained the name of Bidzina Ivanishvili. It should be noted that on April 12 the same TV channel dedicated its airtime to the story about finding the name of ex-Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili in the Panama Papers and filing a lawsuit by Kezerashvili’s defense lawyer in connection with incorrect translation of the Panama Documents.
On April 9, GPB and Maestro news programs reported on Davit Kezerashvili’s links with Panama Papers. Rustavi 2 TV dedicated its airtime to the story on the next day, April 10 and Imedi and Tabula covered the story on April 11. Only Kavkasia TV did not cover the story related to Davit Kezerashvili in April.
Court in London rejects Kezerashvili’s extradition
On April 6, only GDS news program did not report on the ruling of London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court against extradition of Georgia’s ex-Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili.