COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Georgia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.6 Media pluralism and content diversity

Adoption of the Laws on Broadcasting and on Telecommunications has initiated a new stage of development of mass media and relations within Georgia.

The Law on Broadcasting, adopted in 2004, was developed in association with the EU and Georgia acceded to the EU Directive "TV without Frontiers". It specifies three kinds of radio and TV companies:

  • Public: public TV is obliged to provide the balance between the genres of programmes, including cultural programmes, based on public interest.
  • Community: community broadcasting companies undertake to provide, within their coverage and in the process of broadcasting, the participation of those residents which they serve and, accordingly, the coverage of minority issues, including cultural matters, in their native language (Abkhaz, Azeri, Armenian, Ossetian and Russian). These programmes play an important role in pluralism within the mass media and address diversity within the coverage of radio and TV mass media. See also chapter 4.2.4 and chapter 4.2.7.

Principal regulatory laws

  • The Constitution of Georgia, 1995.
  • The Law on Broadcasting, 2004 - The law defines the rule of broadcasting, rules and functions of an independent regulatory body in the field of broadcasting, terms of regulation of activity in this field, licensing rules and procedures in accordance with the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression and free entrepreneurship. The purpose of this Law is to formulate public broadcasting independent from state interference; to regulate the broadcasting activities in accordance with the principles of transparency, fairness and impartiality through an independent regulatory authority; to ensure the effective use of freedom of speech and opinion, stimulating competitive environment among broadcasters, equality and independence of license holders, effective use of frequencies.
  • Law on Electronic Communications, 02.06.2005/1514-Iს/The law establishes the legal and economic basics of activity with electronic communication networks and facilities on the territory of Georgia, the principles of formation and regulation of the competitive environment in this sphere, the functions of the independent national regulatory authority (Georgian National Communication Commission), the rights and duties of natural persons and legal entities during ownership of electronic communication networks and facilities, their operation and service provision.
  • Law on Independent National Regulatory Authorities -13.09. 2002 /N1666-Is. The purpose of this law is to create the stable legal basis and perfect institutional environment for the sustainable operation of the national regulatory authorities in order to provide in the various spheres of the economy the balancing of interests of license holders and consumers, effective pricing and providing services and goods. The law establishes: protection of independent regulatory authorities operating in Georgia from any political pressure, inappropriate influences and illegitimate interference of state authorities or other officials as well as from any other actions which may infringe their independence; the authority of implementation of the perfect regulation of the specific sphere; responsibility for ensuring the transparency and reliability of decision-making procedures.
  • The Law of Georgia on Freedom of Speech and Expression, 24/06/2004 / # 220 - By this law the state recognizes and protects freedom of speech and expression as the invincible and supreme human values. During implementation of the authority, the people and the state are restricted by these rights and freedoms as directly applicable law.

 Other laws

  • Law on Culture, 12.06.1997 N751-IIs
  • Law on Advertising 18/02/1998
  • Law on State Language, 12.07.2015/4084-rs
  • Laws on Protection of Copyright and Related Rights, 22/06/1999/2112-IIs
  • Law on Limiting Measures in Connection with Intellectual Property, 23/06/1999/N2159-IIs 
  • Law of Georgia on Occupied Territories 23/10/2008 # 431 - The purpose of this law is to define the status of those territories occupied as a result of the Russian Federation’s military aggression, to establish the particular legal regime of these territories.
  • General Administrative Code of Georgia, 25/06/1999 / # 2181 - This Code defines the rule of issuing and the enforcement of an administrative-legal act by the administrative authorities, review of administrative complaints and applications, preparation, conclusion and execution of an administrative deal. The purpose of the Code is to ensure the protection of human rights and freedoms, public interests and the rule of law by administrative bodies. Chapter III is dedicated to freedom of information.
  • Election Code 27/12/2011/5636-RS.  This law regulates the relations on the preparation and conduct of the election of the President of Georgia, the Parliament of Georgia, the representative body of the municipality - Sakrebulo, the executive body of municipality – the Mayor as well as of the referendum and plebiscite, determines the rights and guarantees of the participants of the elections, the rules and authority, of establishment of the election commission of Georgia as well as the dispute resolution procedure in cases provided by the law. According to the Code, the voters’ lists of electoral precincts belonging to ethnic minorities shall be placed on the CEC official website in the language of minority representatives in the election period);
  • Law on state language, 12.07.2015

 International documents 

  • Directive No. 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of Europe on March 10, 2010 “On the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)”
  • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literature and Artistic Works (16/05/1995)

Media strategic documents 

  • General Concept of the Program Policy of the Public Broadcaster, 2017.
  • The Transformation and Development Strategy of the Public Broadcaster “Quality, Depth, Diversity” – “Quality, Depth, Diversity” 2017.
  • Decree #6 of the Georgian National Communications Commission, October 31, 2016 Article 3. Placement of programs produced in non-state language(s) in the broadcasting net.
  • Code of Conduct for Public Broadcaster, 2006.

The estimated share of domestic television programmes produced in Georgia vs. imported products is 70 to 30. (Out of 30% imported product, the major part is manufactured in the USA, followed by Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Turkey, and India (serials); some product is from the Russian Federation. Almost all products are dubbed by TV companies in Georgian (no exact statistical data is available, the information is given in general).

In compliance with the Laws on Telecommunications (adopted in 2004)on Broadcasting (2004) and on Independent Regulatory Commissions (2005), the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) – the independent regulatory authority – issued 92 licenses for TV and radio-broadcasting, as well as 67 licenses for cable TV and radio broadcasting by the end of 2004. None of these stations specialises in culture.

The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection promoted intercultural programmes through subsidies allocated to the TV company "MIR" (107 500 GEL in 2005). However, in 2006, the project was completed, appropriation of "MIR" was stopped and it was closed.

According to polls organised by the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC - independent regulatory authority), 46% of respondents declared a desire for the creation of a specialised cultural channel.

Plans to create a special TV channel "CULTURE", using the public television Channel 2, were discussed before reorganising the State TV and Radio Committee of Georgia into a public service broadcaster (The Public Service Broadcaster is a legal entity of public law, independent of the state and accountable to the public, established under Georgian legislation, on the basis of public financing, for television or radio broadcasting. The Public Service Broadcaster does not subordinate to any state authority), however, it did not come to fruition.

During the period 2000-2004 Georgia underwent market liberalisation, new competitors arrived on the market, and unauthorised channels were closed. The growth of revenues in the sector and advertising income is stable.

The Public Service Broadcaster is funded at 0.15% of GDP from the state budget. Parliament, when planning the state budget, relies on the approved GDP from the previous year, not on the projected GDP for the following year. For example, the state obligation to the Public Broadcaster in the 2007 budget was calculated according to the GDP of 2005. Because of this, the Public Broadcaster is not fully benefiting from the GDP growth, which initially was the main idea behind this scheme. The difference in this case amounts to GEL 1.5 million. The Public Broadcaster's budget in 2006 was GEL 16.5 million, with income from economic activities nearly GEL 2 million. Economic activities include income from limited advertising, rent, and sale of property. (https://www.irex.org/region/europe-eurasia/georgia)

In 2004-2005, public initiatives in the area of mass media also omitted the issues of culture and the need for analytical programmes related to cultural issues. In this period there was a decrease in the already small area of culture oriented programmes; in some cases this decline was caused by closing TV companies which had special culture programmes, in other cases the culture programmes were replaced with more profitable entertainment programmes, e.g. reality shows. In general, only some channels have short programmes in art and culture.

In 2007, the TV company "Iveria" was started, under the Patriarchy of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church, which is oriented to religious and cultural development.

Development of Internet projects combining the spheres of culture is mainly prevented due to data processing problems.

2017

According to the data of 2016, culture and art make up 20% of the total content in Georgian public broadcasting. Source: Stat. from State TV, 2016; UNESCO CULTURE FOR DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS Georgia’s Analytical and Technical Report, 2017; http://observatory.culturepartnership.eu/en/article/cdis-georgia

There are no other in-depth statistics; no targeted surveys  in media are conducted on the role of culture and cultural content; journalists are not interested in culture issues.

According to the project by YTA Union ``Pilot Scheme for Monitoring Implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions``(2017):

`` Promoting the growth of the number of users of print, broadcast and internet media and the Internet; Quantitative indicators of print, broadcast and Internet media users:

Print Media: The circulation of books and newspapers / brochures in millions of copies:

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011-2012

2013-2016

2.8

1.9

2. 1

2.2

2.8

3.1

Source http://www.geostat.ge/?action=page&p_id=208&lang=geo

Broadcast media:

The acting persons subject to the regulation of the GNCC – 410, where only broadcasting - 76; telecommunication and broadcasting, -17; only electronic communications - 310; only Non-Communications - 7. – “The 2015 Activity Report” (short version). Source: http://www.gncc.ge/uploads/other/2/2034.pdf; https://analytics.gncc.ge/   

Three out of the broadcast media outlets are the National Public Broadcaster and 29 local broadcasting companies, while 35 companies have a satellite transmission license. Source: Georgian National Communication Commission https://analytics.gncc.ge/ka/statistics/?c=broadcasting&sid=341546

Mobile service:

Currently 5 mobile operators operate in Georgia. The number of mobile subscribers in October of 2017 was: individuals - 3,754,079, corporate -1,301,628, total 5,055,707.

Fixed broadband service

According to the data of the second quarter of 2015, optical fiber service was provided by 32 authorized entities, DSL services - by 13 entities, WiMax – by 3 entities, WiFi – by 121 entities. Number of fixed broadband services subscribers in Georgia in the second quarter of 2015 was 606.45 thousand subscribers. Compared to the second quarter of 2014, the number of subscribers increased by 5.5% (31.74 thousand subscribers). Density of fixed broadband subscribers amounted to 48.5%.

Internet media and Internet users

Out of persons subject to regulation by the GNCC the telecommunication and broadcasting entities jointly make 17; only electronic communications - 310.Source: http://www.gncc.ge/uploads/other/2/2034.pdf ; https://analytics.gncc.ge/   ``

The majority of national and local periodicals are privately owned.

Table 3: Circulation of books, magazines and newspapers in Georgia, 2005-2017 

Table 3a: Publishing of Books, Magazines and Newspapers 2005-2010

  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Number of copies, mln. 0,3 2,4 2,8 1,9 2,1 2,2

Annual circulation of magazines
and other periodicals, mln. copies

 1,1 3,4 16,2 19,2  23,2  25,9 
Number of newspapers, unit  88  209 181 221  199  225 
Of which daily ... 13  15  15  12  14 
2-3-times in a week¹)  ... 17  15  17 
Weekly  ...  59  50  57  12  17 
Twice in month  ...  34  25  32  19  29 
Monthly  ...  45  46  70  121  126 
Once in every 2-3 month  ...  13 
Single Publishing  ...  10  11 
Annual Publishing  ... 
Irregular Publishing  ...  18  14  10  12  11 
Single circulation, mln. copies  0,4  0,8  0,5  0,7  0,5  0,8 
Annual circulation mln. copies  17,9  35,9  33,3  33,2  35,1  46,7 

 1) in 2006-2008 years 2-4 times in a week.
Source: Ilia Chavchavadze National Parliamentary Library of Georgia

Table 3b: Publishing of Books, Magazines and Newspapers 2011-2017

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Number of copies, mln. 2,8 2,8 3,1 3,1 3,1 3,1 ...

Annual circulation of magazines
and other periodicals, mln. copies

27,4 27,7 27,8 27,8 27,8 27,8 ...
Number of newspapers, unit 284 301 311 313 314 317 ...
Of which daily 12 14 14 14 14 14 16
2-3-times in a week²)  17 18 19 19 19 19 10
Weekly 49 49 51 52 51 51 52
Twice in month 24 25 26 26 26 26 12
Monthly 68 73 76 77 77 78 37
Once in every 2-3 month 35 38 39 39 39 39 12
Single Publishing 15 13 13 13 14 15 25
Annual Publishing 27 33 34 34 34 34 3
Irregular Publishing 37 38 39 39 40 41 51
Single circulation, mln. copies 0,1 0,1 0,1 0,1 0,1 0,1 ...
Annual circulation, mln. copies 51,5 57,4 60,4 60,4 60,4 60,4 ...

²) Ibid.
Source: Ilia Chavchavadze National Parliamentary Library of Georgia

Notwithstanding the development of the media, and the high prestige attached to the field of journalism, there are no special training programmes for journalists in Georgia aimed at increasing their sensitivity to the culture-related issues and conflicts. Consequently, professionalism is an issue among those journalists who are engaged in cultural issues.

There are no special antitrust measures and legal bases for preventing media concentration in Georgia. This promotes the trend of monopolisation of mass media by the central authorities and ideologising of previously independent TV companies which has developed in 2006-2007. As a result of transfer and distribution of shares they felt in hands of the pro-governmental forces.

The political crisis of November 2007 sharply exposed the problems related to the independent mass media. Surveys showed that the most highly rated and balanced TV Company was TV "Imedi" the main competitor of the pro-governmental TV stations. "Imedi", a part of Imedi Media Holding and its management, was transferred for one year to News Corporation, owned by Rupert Murdock. This TV Company covered all burning topics of the day and in November 2007 arranged live debates with representatives of the opposition. However, on November 7, after the attack on the rally of the opposition and before declaration of the state of emergency, the state authorities occupied the TV Company building and forcibly stopped it broadcasting without any substantiating documents. In the same manner, the broadcasting of independent TV companies "Caucasia", "25th Channel" (Batumi), Radio "Imedi" were also stopped. Thereafter, the assets of the opposition TV company "Imedi" were taken over by a court decision and the Georgian National Communication Commission (GNCC) deprived the TV company of its license. Such actions of the government caused indignation inside the country and outside it. All democratically disposed people (regardless of political belonging) demanded the re-opening of TV Channel "Imedi". The Ombudsman of Georgia appealed for the restoration of freedom of speech.

Although the state of emergency ended on November 16, 2007, "media freedom is still a matter of our concern", according to the defence and foreign ministers of EU member states at a meeting held in Brussels on 19-20 November 2007. The EU Board underlined the significance of creating the conditions required for the establishment of adequate democratic processes prior to the pre-term presidential elections (5 January 2008). At the beginning of the summer 2008, TV "Imedi" was back on the air, although it has yet to achieve its former rating levels.

In this context, the cultural issues are of minor importance for TV channels, nevertheless some well-known representatives of Georgian culture have increased interest in various political issues.

In 2010 the amendments in the Media Law have been drafted in two variants of the bill. One variant is presented by the ruling party and this bill provides the transparency of mass media owners, restriction of norms for the owners (legal entities registered in the offshore area are prohibited from owning broadcasting media). The other variant is prepared by media-experts and journalists and presented by the parliamentary opposition minority. This bill covers the larger range of problems such as registration and licensing, transparency of state financing and transparency of ownership in the media field, problems of monopolisation, and the role and level of independence of the Communications Regulatory Commission etc. The amendments were adopted at the end of 2010.

2017

Indicator of freedom of expression

According to the Freedom House report, freedom of expression in Georgia in 2015 was 48%, compared to 47% in 2014 and 52% in 2012. Methodology: UNESCO CDIS.                  

Source: UNESCO CULTURE FOR DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS Georgia’s Analytical and Technical Report, 2017

The Draft Law On Freedom of Information was submitted for review to the Ministry of Justice (2017)

ARTAREA

The only culture-oriented TV channel in Georgian media is “Artarea”. This is a private television channel. In May 2012, TBC Bank created the first cultural web portal; the Internet TV version of “Artarea”. Since December 25th, 2013, Artarea has broadcast as a cable television channel. “Artarea” was originally created by the sponsorship of TBC Bank. Currently, the company operates independently and its programs are funded by various organizations, including the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia. http://artarea.tv/

In 2014, an important innovation in the sphere of public broadcasting TV is the project "My book" which aims to promote books and literature in Georgia. Georgian analogue of this BBC mega-project is being aired on the First Channel of Georgia's Public Broadcaster (GPB) starting in March 2014 and is produced in close cooperation with the National Library of Georgia.

2016

Media and Broadcasting issues are included in the “Cultural Strategy 2025” (01.07.2016) https://tinyurl.com/y9xhm3cc

``Chapter III: Sector-specific Tasks

Media and Broadcasting 

  • Use the potential of the media to advance public awareness about culture, cultural diversity and inter-cultural dialogue;
  • Update laws and regulations and plan mechanisms in order to establish and develop cultural media outlets (amongst them, national cultural broadcast, online editions, blogs, etc.), encourage regional, private commercial and non-commercial media to produce cultural products and to cover cultural processes;
  • Design measures (e.g. financial aid for film production, production of television and radio, performances and television shows) to help the public broadcaster contribute to the creation and distribution of products of cultural importance;
  • Produce special public broadcasting programmes, both in the official and ethnic languages, to expand opportunities for ethnic minorities to access the information about cultural processes;
  • Support institutions of higher education to develop programmes in cultural journalism and facilitate the participation of journalists working on culture in local and international training programmes;
  • Sustain critical evaluation of professional activities to enable analysis of cultural life, which shall in return lead to increased public awareness and allow cultural professionals to assess their own work.` 

2017 Policy and strategic documents:

  • Strategic documents relevant to the ratified international counterparts defining freedom of information (harmonizing them with national legislation), have been adopted.
  • There is statistical evidence of an increase of the number of consumers (physical and legal persons) of media and digital services
  • There are the general media monitoring and numerous NGOs implementing it. 

 Media policy watchdogs:

Monitoring projects

There are supervisory organizations, media monitoring projects, and continuing studies and debates, but they do not refer to cultural content.

Cultural diversity oriented activities

  • The cultural activities carried out through the initiative of various organizations (mainly local and non-governmental organizations, as well as international organizations) are covered with more or less intensity by the Public Broadcaster.

Chapter published: 13-02-2019

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