26-27 May weekend was full of events and media had to work in special regime. 26 May several events dedicated to the Independence Day of Georgia were organized and 27 May opposition political party Georgian Dream gathered tens of thousands of Tbilisi residents marking start of pre-election campaign at the Independence Square in Tbilisi.
Day One – 26 May
26 May Rustavi 2, Imedi TV and the First Channel of the Public Broadcaster dedicated more air time to the events marking the Independence Day. During the day, even before the events started the newscasts showed live journalists from the Kutaisi new Parliament construction site, place of military parade planned also in Kutaisi and site of planned concert. Journalists were also broadcasting live from Tbilisi Rustaveli Avenue Industrial Parade and Marjanishvili Square (concert of the Sukhishvili National Ballet of Georgia). Journalists gave detail information to the audience about each of the events.
Rustavi 2 had to breach the broadcasting schedule. 3 p.m. newscast usually continues for half an hour, but on 26 May the newscast continued for hour and a half. Just as in previous newscast on that day there were seven may topics covered- new building of Parliament in Kutaisi, military and industrial parades, President visiting victims of natural disaster, photo-album – new architecture of Georgia and concerts in Kutaisi and Tbilisi.
Newscast was broadcasted from Batumi and Tbilisi studios. Main topics of newscasts of Imedi TV and the First Channel were identical to that of Rustavi 2. Imedi TV aired newscasts from Kutaisi and Tbilisi studios while the First Channel of the Public Broadcaster refused to air newscasts from the studio and the anchors reported news from Kutaisi and Tbilisi streets.
At 4:30 p.m. all three broadcasters started live broadcasting from Kutaisi. Audience was able to see how MPs entered the new building of Parliament. They all fully showed President’s speech which completed at 5:30 p.m.; after followed the live broadcasting from the military parade. After the completion of the parade at 7 p.m. Rustavi 2 aired a half-an-hour film by its journalist David Kakulia which was dedicated to the Georgia-produced armored vehicles Lazika and Didgori.
Main newscasts of all three channels chose the aforementioned seven topics and top news again. The only difference was that Imedi TV aired the concert in Kutaisi for one hour with ten minutes of fireworks. Rustavi 2 showed the Sukhishvilebi concert from Tbilisi Marjanishvili Square.
Maestro TV also covered the events dedicated to the Independence Day in the daily newscasts. Maestro journalists reported live from Kutaisi. Maestro breached its broadcasting schedule in the evening when at 4:45 p.m. it aired live from the new Parliament building; fully aired President’s speech and the military parade. Maestro TV ported on other events dedicated to the Independence Day during the 9 p.m. main newscast; journalists also reported live from the new building of Parliament (7 minutes). Second topic of Maestro was the amnesty of convicts and the military parade in Kutaisi (7 minutes). At the end of the newscast there was a report on President’s visit to the military parade.
Journalists of the Ninth Channel also reported live from Kutaisi new Parliament and military parade during the day. At 6 p.m. newscast the Ninth Channel broadcasted live President Mikheil Saakashvili’s speech, military parade and ceremony of opening the new Parliament building. The Ninth Channel spoke about the Independence Day celebration at the main newscast also, although it was not the top topic. The main topic of the newscast was last year’s dispersal of the opposition rally at Rustaveli Avenue. The TV-Company dedicated total of 7 minutes to the given topic. Unlike the national broadcasters the Ninth Channel also showed citizens who did not like the military parade.
Day 2 – 27 May
Differing priorities were even more clearly seen at the broadcasters on 27 May. Due to the Georgian Dream organized meeting Maestro TV and the Ninth Channel changed the broadcasting schedule and started live broadcasting from the manifestation of the meeting participants hour-and-a-half earlier. Several crews of these TV-Companies worked at the action and broadcasted the meeting from several locations live. Maestro stopped live broadcasting from the meeting after the speech of the Coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. The Ninth Channel was broadcasting from the meeting at the Independence Square for hour and half more.
The First Channel, Rustavi 2 and Imedi dedicated less time to the enormous meeting. They covered the given story only in the scheduled newscasts. When Maestro and the Ninth Channel were broadcasting the meeting live the Public Broadcaster at 4 p.m. newscast reported rallies underway in Europe as the top story. Attention was paid to the protest rallies in Italy and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The given report was followed by the Report of the Department of State of the USA, Hillary Clinton’s planned visit to Georgia and President’s meeting with businessmen. They reported on the Independence Square action in a 2-minute live broadcast by journalist Rati Mujiri.
Rustavi 2 started its 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts and Imedi its 5 p.m. newscast with the action of the Georgian Dream. They both broadcasted live from the Independence Square and aired speeches by the organizers of the meeting. They did not say anything about the quantity of meeting participants. Duration of the reports was 10-15 minutes.
Rustavi 2 Courier P.S. program chose the Georgian Dream action and start of pre-election campaign as the top story at 8 p.m. Courier dedicated up to 7 minutes to the action. The journalist did not name precise number of meeting participants in the report, although said that the Georgian Dream managed to gather a lot of people at the Independent Square. The close-ups and general images the people’s quantity could well be seen. All the political leaders of the Georgian Dream spoke about the future plans and importance of the big meeting.
Public Broadcaster and Imedi do not have main newscast on Sundays, but the First Channel spoke about the Georgian Dream action in Eka Kvesitadze’s Talk-Show. Imedi TV aired the scheduled show Women’s Logic.
Maestro and the Ninth Channel do not have newscasts on Sunday evenings, although they changed the schedule and 27 May the newscasts were aired at 9 p.m.
The Ninth Channel dedicated 20 minutes to the start of pre-election campaign of the Georgian Dream. The report in detail showed information about the process of meeting, organization, participants and artists that joined the rally. Experts also assessed the 27 May meeting and said that the Georgian Dream will win the elections. In the report attention was paid to the quantity of meeting participants.
Maestro chose the 27 May Georgian Dream action as the top story. In the report they showed almost all the political figures that participated in the actions; leader of the Public Assembly Nino Burjanadze, Coalition member Gubaz Sanikidze and political scientist Soso Tsiskarishvili. Maestro asked for comments to majority members, discussed foreign media response to the action and paid attention to the quantity of meeting participants. The total duration of the report was 36 minutes.