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06.11.2012 13:52

Should Adjara TV and Radio Company Gain Status of Public Broadcaster?

Maia Tsiklauri
Media Discusions

6 November at Adjara Democratic Involvement Center politicians, journalist and interested persons will discuss the status of Adjara TV-Company.  Georgian Young Lawyers Association, Adjara NGO Democracy Institute and representatives of Adjara TV itself request status of public broadcaster to be given to Adjara TV and Radio. 

Adjara TV-Company lawyers have already prepared the coinciding draft law.  Document says that funding of the Adjara Public Broadcaster must be minimum 4% of Adjara Autonomous Republic budget. 

Adjara TV-Company has been broadcasting without status since 2004 and officially it is the subsidiary of Adjara Autonomous Republic government – Department of Television and Radio Broadcasting and its annual funding from the budget is approximately GEL 7 million.  Law on Broadcasting of Georgia says that State structure cannot be owner of television. 

With the question about defining the status of Adjara TV media.ge contacted the Chairman of the Council of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics of Georgia Zviad Koridze, Chief Editor of Batumelebi Newspaper Eter Turadze, Channel 25 journalist Jaba Ananidze, Head of the Media Legal Protection Center of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association Natia Kapanadze and Coalition Georgian Dream member, MP Eliso Chapidze. 

Jaba Ananidze, Channel 25 journalist: 

- If granting of public broadcaster status to Adjara TV it is necessary to ask Adjara population.  If population will agree for Adjara TV to be funded from Adjara budget than special draft law insuring editorial independence of the television must be worked out. 

Government has many mechanisms to control Adjara television.  Adjara TV lawyers’ draft law says that funding of Adjara TV must be minimum 4% of the total budget of Adjara.  The word “minimum” is important here as it creates doubts that if Adjara TV will make the government to like it, it will receive funding exceeding the 4%, which is GEL 6 million from current budget. 

During 25 years of existence Adjara TV has never achieved trust from the public.  So, I believe the best option today is to sell the television. 

Eter Turadze, Batumelebi Newspaper Chief Editor:

- Adjara TV can be a public broadcaster, or part of a public broadcaster.  It is important from where the television will be funded.  4% funding from Adjara budget, written in the draft law presented by Adjara TV itself is quite a solid amount for a region.  Due to that the public must receive information what public broadcaster means, what good it does and then to ask them if they want the television to be funded from the taxes they pay. 

Adjara TV status must not be decided upon by politicians as the given channel has been the “spokesman” of the government already.  I have information that the new government is trying to make the decision without any discussion, by its own rules. 

Natia Kapanadze, Head of the Media Legal Protection Center of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association: 

- Georgian Young Lawyers Association believes that Adjara TV must within legal framework receive the status of public broadcaster.  Government must consider that the material-technical base of the television has been created by funding from the State Budget. 

In case of reorganization of Adjara TV into public broadcaster a discussion must be held at which it will be decided how the Board of Trustees will be formed, for how many years its members will be elected; also if the rules of the formation of the Board of Trustees that the Public Broadcaster of Georgia has can be considered or not. 

Zviad Koridze, Chairman of the Council of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics of Georgia: 

- There must be one public broadcaster in the country.  There can be televisions funded from budget in regions, but they must be structural parts of the Georgian Public Broadcaster. 

It is necessary for the regions of Georgia to have their voice at Public Broadcaster and to have real micro-models of the public broadcaster which will be funded from the Georgian Public Broadcaster and will act as public broadcasters in regions.  This is actually connected to the reform of self-government and territorial organization of the country. 

Eliso Chapidze, MP, Georgian Dream Faction: 

- Adjara TV must be within legal frames.  State television should not exist in a democratic country in the 21st century. 

We want a television that serves the public.  Georgian National Communications Commission must conduct a survey and find out if Adjara needs an independent public broadcaster, or Adjara TV must become part of the Georgian Public Broadcaster.  Another option is to privatize the given property and for the television to work in healthy competition conditions. 

I believe it would be better to allocate funds for social programs, instead of Adjara TV, but if the population wants have television we should consider their interest.  

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