Consultations on the legal status of Adjara TV-Radio Department will continue in Georgian Parliament, Adjara Autonomous Republic Vice-Speaker David Batsikadze said at 6 November meeting held at the Batumi Democratic Involvement Center.
“Tomorrow I will have meetings with Georgian Parliament Vice-Speaker and MPs and will ask the government to start initiatives on the given issue as soon as possible,”Batsikadze stressed. Adjara Autonomous Republic Supreme Council member from Georgian Dream – Adjara faction GiorgiMasalkin said that commission to work on the given issue will be formed at the Council during nearest three days.
During the public discussion in the Democratic Involvement Center necessity to make amendments to the Law on Broadcasting was named as priority. The legislative amendments provides for Adjara Autonomous Republic to have the right to have its own public broadcaster. Head of the Democratic Institute NGO GenoGeladze believes that legal procedures for defining the status of Adjara TV-Radio Department must be done in an expedited way. “It is important to discuss and make decision on the status of Adjara TV-Radio Department now because we have only month-and-a-half to decide whether we need the given media outlet or not. From January 2013 we will not have the given media outlet any more, as our legislation does not recognize such a media outlet.” GenoGeladze proposes to organize a referendum at the nearest local government elections. “It is up to the public to decide if they want to pay for the given media outlet,” Geladze said.
Survey done by the Democracy Institute in which 236 representatives of 11 non-governmental organization participated, 76% showed support to the reformation of Adjara television into a public broadcaster.
Head of the House of Free Journalist AdlanChanidze will support reformation of Adjara TV-Radio Department into a public broadcaster only if there will be legislative guarantees of the independence of the television. He believes that in case of absence of legislative guarantees of the independence of the Board of Trustees of the television, the given television will be the same as the Georgian Public Broadcaster.
“If the television will continue broadcasting in the same format it will be a disaster, as I, as a citizen, do not want a public broadcaster that does not serve the interests of the public,” Chanidze said. He made two initiatives at the meeting – selection of members of the Board of Trustees by competition and their work for free. He believes that only in this case members of the Board of Trustees will be really independent.
Journalists of Adjara TV-Radio Department also attended the meeting. They believe government must discuss the draft law prepared by the lawyers of the television; the draft law includes all the issues that must be taken care of in case of reorganization of the TV-Radio Department. According to the draft law budget of the regional broadcaster must be minimum 4% of the budget of the autonomous republic. Majority of discussion participants assessed the funding of the television from the state budget even for a little period of time, as a lever of affecting media outlet by the government. Adjara Radio issue was not discussed at the meeting, due to which journalists of the Adjara Radio Department criticized the meeting participants.
“I can’t understand, does the radio come as a “change” with the television, or why nobody speaks about it?!” Adjara radio journalist and former director David Trapaidze asked.
Participants of the discussion also spoke about the initiative of selling Adjara TV-Radio Department, although lawyers assessed the given initiative as unreal due to absence of coinciding legal norm.
Public discussions of Adjara TV-Radio Department status and its formation will remain of importance in future. According to David Batsikadze, after the definition of the legal status, representatives of the wide spectrum of the society will decide what type of public broadcaster they want in Adjara.