VIENNA, 6 November 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today said that a court ruling in Georgia ordering the replacement of the management at television channel Rustavi 2, poses a threat to media freedom as it threatens the independence of a major media outlet’s editorial policy.
According to reports, on 5 November the Tbilisi City Court ruled to appoint temporary managers at Rustavi 2. The measure has been ordered as an interim injunction in the ongoing ownership dispute over the television channel, a case previously raised by the Representative (www.osce.org/fom/193946 and www.osce.org/fom/176521).
Reportedly, the temporary managers, among other executive powers, were told by the judge to exercise a change in the editorial policy. Instead of focusing attention on the particular court case that allegedly affects Rustavi 2’s ratings and financial well-being, the judge said the television channel should cover “all the issues representing public interest”.
“Editorial decisions should be made in news rooms, not court rooms. Attempts by the courts to unduly influence an editorial policy of a media outlet are nothing short of the abuse of the rule of law and democratic foundations in a society,” Mijatović said.
“I call on the judiciary to fully respect the right of Rustavi 2 to editorial independence.”