What I remember the most as taught by my professor of sociology is that sociological researches do not have to precisely reflect the reality; they show only approximately reality. The more advanced the research is the closer it is to reality and vise versa. Naturally, professionalism of the researchers is decisively important for the sociological researches; mainly their impartiality. In any case in each of the researches the most important part for me is what percentage of respondents have not answered certain question.
The research conducted by the Caucasus Centre for Research Resources in April is not interesting only because of that. In October 2009 by stratification and cluster combination 1768 adult, Georgian speaking citizens were questioned in Tbilisi and rest of Georgia and 2009 citizens in March-April 2011. The research was aimed at identifying Georgian public opinion on Georgian media. The given article is dedicated to the same theme although I must stress that I have been alarmed with the fact how Georgians spend free time.
According to the research 83% of the respondents (80% in 2009) spend free time watching TV; 49% (37% in 2009) spend free time with family and friends; 22% spend free time reading newspapers and magazines; 20% (9% in 2009) spend free time surfing the Internet; 19% (18% in 2009) read books; 17% (13% in 2009) spend free time gardening; 16% spend free time hanging out; 14% (13% in 2009) listens to music; 13% (9% in 2009) spend free time sleeping; 9% (6% in 2009) spend free time shopping; 7% (3% - 2009) play computer games; 4% (2% - 2009) work out; 3% (2% - 2009) spend free time doing arts/handcraftsmanship; 10% (6% - 2009) answered other; 5% (3% - 2009) of the respondents do not have any free time.
I don't know about you, but for me the answers of people over 18 mean that absolute majority of the respondents do not have either a possibility or wish to read books, renew their wardrobe, care about their mental and physical conditions: they either watch TV, play computer games, sleep, or just hang out... Still, the reasons and future results of these answers is a theme for a different article.
As for the media the respondents of the given research must have a well formed opinion on the issue as 83% of them spend free tome watching TV. In addition the main source for information for the 88% of the respondents is TV. It is also quite interesting that the number of those who trust Rustavi-2 has increased from 37% to 43% from 2009 to 2011 and of those who trust the Public Broadcaster from 17% to 25%; the number of those who trust Imedi has decreased from 43% to 42% and of those who trust Kavkasia from 20% to 13%; The same 9% of the respondents trust Maestro the most.
To tell the truth it is unclear for me why such TV Companies as Ajara, Region TV, Real TV, PIK are not in this list, as they also have news programs, but it is more interesting that the number of respondents who are "Neutral", "Do not trust", or "Do not have an answer" is higher. In case of Rustavi 2 the figures are as follows: 42-9-7%, Imedi - 44-9-10%, GPB - 43-11-21%, Kavkasia - 22-10-55%, Maestro - 18-8-65%.
The questions related to the relations of the government and media has been quite interesting for me also. Question - "Should the government control what information media reports?" - In 2011 61% of the respondents answered negatively (2% less compared to 2009) and 24% answered positively (compared to 25% of 2009). Such a question should not even be asked in the XXI century, although the reality shows that in many countries of the world, unfortunately including Georgia, there is a necessity for asking it. There still are people in the country who think the government should control the information reporting by media.
Approach to the content of information reported by state-funded broadcasters is also very interesting. 10% of the 2011 respondents believe such broadcasters must be pro-governmental (compared to 8% of 2009). 75% of respondents claim that despite the state funding all the broadcasters must be unbiased (2% increase during last two years). It is also noteworthy that the only government/budget funded TV Company mentioned in the research is the Public Broadcaster. Despite that in the question and answers are mentioned several other broadcasters. This probably is the recognition of what the society has been speaking about for a long time - national TV Companies are almost fully funded by the government authorities.
"To what extent the interests of owners affect the news reporting?" - This is the next question and we see some very interesting answers. From 36 to 29% has decreased the percentage of those who believe the owners' interests have significant affect, from 28 to 32% increased the percentage of those who believe the affect is not significant, 5% believe such affect does not exist and 34% of the respondents do not have an answer to the given question. Considering this and the answers showing which broadcasters the respondents believe to be funded by the government makes the answers to the question about trust to different broadcasters even more important. It appears that 25-42% of the respondents trust the governmental TV channels (actually the government also).
We could believe this to be the reality but there comes the next question - "Is there freedom of speech in Georgian media?" - 46% of the respondents believe there is not (42% in 2009), 36% answered - yes (34% in 2009). The research also separates the opinion of the capitol residents and of the regions to the given issue. It appears that residents of regions are more confident of the freedom of speech in the media, then in Tbilisi (34-33% respectively); 47% of the Tbilisi residents believe there is no freedom speech in media (regions - 40%).
It is curious that 48% of the United National Movement members do not doubt the freedom of speech in the media; 30% believe there is no freedom of speech and 22% do not have an answer to the given question. 31% of opposition respondents say there is the freedom of speech in the media; 45% do not believe it; 30% has no answer to the question. The responses from the non-party member respondents were as follows - 25-45-30% respectively. The picture is very interesting: part of those who trust pro-governmental channels (from 25 to 45%) are not sure there is a freedom of speech in Georgian media; furthermore, the government itself is not sure of that (30% said no and 22% refrained from answering.)
I believe there were to more very interesting questions in the research. Question - "Do journalists act according to the interests of the government, political parties?" - United National Movement - yes - 31%; neutral position - 41%; 12% - no; I don't know - 16%. Opposition - yes - 46%; neutral position - 40%; no - 4%; I don't know - 19%. Question - "whose interests do Georgian journalists consider the most?" - People like me - yes - 26%; neutral position - 44%; no - 18%; I don'w know - 12%; of the media owners - yes - 32%; neutral position - 38%, no - 7%, I don't know - 23%; of the government - yes - 37%; neutral position - 41%; no - 7%, I don't know - 16%.
The figures are truly strange.