Monitoring Editorial Policy of TV Primetime News Programs
June 1-30, 201
The subjects of monitoring: Rustavi 2, Imedi, Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), Maestro, Tabula, GDS, Kavkasia and Obiektivi (main news programs).
Monitoring methodology: see http://mdfgeorgia.ge/eng/view_news/415/
Monitoring of the main news programs for June 1-30 has revealed the following tendencies:
Rustavi 2 TV ownership dispute, Georgia’s EU visa liberalisation, ECHR’ s ruling into Merabishvili’s pretrial detention case and the Defense Minister’s decision to scrap conscription for MoD were among the priority topics covered by the televisions subject to monitoring in June. In addition, primetime news programs also dedicated their airtime to the issues of investigation into the Kortskheli incident, allocation of free airtime for political ads, the bill on police patrolling outside polling stations, political parties’ pre-election activities, official visits paid by the President and the Prime Minister. It should be noted that in June GDS and GPB aired special editions of their news programs. On June 2, GDS aired the main news program to honor its deceased journalist and on June 13 Georgian Public Broadcaster dedicated Moambe news program to the June 13 deadly flood and its consequences.
It should also be noted that broadcast of UEFA Euro 2016 matches from mid-June had a certain influence on the time and length of GPB’s news programs.
Infographics No 1
See infographics at the following link:http://bit.ly/2aBX37i
Important Topics of Public Interest Omitted by Televisions’ Primetime News Programs
Judge presiding over Rustavi 2 TV case accused of swindling
Obiektivi TV did not cover in its primetime news program the allegations made by Rustavi 2 TV director Nika Gvaramia, who accused Natia Gujabidze, one of the three judges presiding over the Rustavi 2 TV case, of swindling. Gvaramia said that Natia Gujabidze was actually living in the flat of her mother and paying the rent for this flat from the state budget.
OSCE report on pre-election environment
Maestro, GDS, Kavkasia and Obiektivi did not cover the report released by OSCE’s Needs Assessment Mission ahead of the October 8 parliamentary elections in Georgia. The report focused on a number of issues, which may have negative impacts on election environment, among them recent developments in media, amendments to election laws and release of surveillance videos of high-profile individuals.
President’s remarks about Kortskheli incident
Only GDS did not air the remarks made by President Giorgi Margvelashvili about the Kortskheli incident on June 2. Speaking about the incident outside a polling station in the Zugdidi municipality, where some leaders and activists of the opposition United National Movement party were beaten by GDDG supporters, Margvelashvili slammed law enforcement agencies for ineffective response to the incident and spoke about possible presence of “belligerent guys” in the ruling coalition.
Audit report on salary supplements of public servants
On June 6, GDS did not cover the report released by the State Audit Office, according to which the use of salary supplements saw a significant increase in 2014-2015. The report reads that the total amount of salary supplements paid by the ministries in 2015 increased by GEL 48 million compared to 2014. The ministries of corrections and justice were leading in 2014-2015 by the amount of paid salary supplements.
Issue of qualification of the judge presiding over Rustavi 2 TV case
All televisions subject to monitoring except GDS and Obiektivi dedicated their airtime to the motion filed by Rustavi 2 TV director Nika Gvaramia, who requested Judge Shorena Kavelashvili’s recusal citing her specialization in criminal law. Gvaramia said that before the Rustavi 2 TV case, Shorena Kavelashvili was involved in adjudication of criminal cases.
Rustavi public school pupils attend a screening of video showing violence
On June 9-10, only Rustavi 2, GPB, Maestro and Tabula dedicated their airtime to the story according to which pupils from Rustavi public school No 2 attended a screening of video showing violence. The head of the UNM party’s Rustavi office accused the principal of public school No 2 of exerting pressure on his child, as well as the history teacher from the same school of organizing a screening of video for the 7th, 8th and 9th graders showing inhuman treatment of inmates. The school staff denied allegations claiming that the film featured the speech made by Levan Vasadze at the Family Congress. According to the story, the fact of showing inhuman treatment of inmates was not confirmed; instead, school pupils were shown Levan Vasadze’s speech as well as dispersal of the November 7 and May 26 protest rallies.
Member of Sakrebulo, Tedo Kobakhidze accused of extortion
Georgian Public Broadcaster, Maestro, GDS and Obiektivi did not cover in their primetime news programs the story, according to which member of Tbilisi Sakrebulo, Tedo Kobakhidze was accused by a former employee of extortion. The latter claimed that Kobakhidze demanded money from him in exchange for offering a job. He also said that he had to transfer certain amount of money to Kobakhidze’s account monthly, adding that the total sum amounted to GEL 4 000. Tedo Kobakhidze’s sister, Parliament’s Vice Speaker Manana Kobakhidze was also notified of the fact of extortion. Tedo Kobakhidze denied extortion allegations and requested the prosecutor’s office to investigate the case.
Irakli Okruashvili gives testimony against Saakashvili and Merabishvili
On June 15, only Rustavi 2 and Tabula did not cover the story according to which ex-Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili gave a testimony on the case involving attack on former opposition lawmaker Valeri Gelashvili. Okruashvili hinted at possible links of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili with the attack. Okruashvili said that the attack on Gelashvili was retaliation for the latter’s statements about Saakashvili’s family.
TI findings: increased budget expenses
All televisions subject to monitoring except Imedi, Maestro and GDS dedicated their airtime to the findings released by Transparency International Georgia about increased budget expenses in municipalities. After monitoring the processes in 27 municipalities, Transparency International Georgia released a report, according to which the amount of salaries granted to the employees of local executive bodies, mayor’s offices and Sakrebulos significantly exceeded the established norm.
Sulkhan Molashvili’s death
On June 29, Tabula and Rustavi 2 did not cover the story about the death of Sulkhan Molashvili, ex-chairman of the Chamber of Control. Molashvili, who was charged with misappropriation of state funds, accused previous authorities of torture and inhuman treatment.
Ombudsman’s conclusion on dismissal of the chairman of Tbilisi City Court
In June, only Rustavi 2, Tabula and Kavkasia covered in their news programs the conclusion released by the Georgian Public Defender on dismissal of Mamuka Akhvlediani, chairman of the Tbilisi City Court. According to this conclusion, Akhvlediani’s dismissal was illegal and the High Council of Justice failed to provide any document proving that Akhvlediani had committed any wrongdoing.
Misspending of Funds at Transport Service
Only Obiektivi and GDS did not cover the story about misspending of funds at the Transport Service of Tbilisi Mayor’s Office. According to audit reports, large amount of public funds were misspent at the Tbilisi Transport Service.