May 26-27 turned out t be the weekend overloaded with events and media was to work in the state of emergency. On May 26 several events dedicated to the Independence Day of Georgia were held. On May 27 the opposition political party Georgian Dream organized the assembly of thousands of people in Freedom square and the adjacent territory to announce the launch of the election campaign.
Day One - May 26
TV companies Rustavi 2, Imedi and the First Channel of the Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB) apportioned most of airtime to the May 26 events dedicated to the Independence Day. Throughout the day prior to the beginning of the events all of the news outlets broadcast the journalists live from a recently constructed Parliament building in Kutaisi, as well as from the locations the military parade and the concert were going to be held. News programs broadcast live the industrial parade being in Rustaveli Ave Tbilisi and Marjanishvili square hosting Sukhishvilebi concert. Journalists thoroughly reported on every event held.
Rustavi 2 too was to rupture its programming. The 15:00 news outlet which usually lasts for half an hour took up an hour and a half on May 26. Like in previous outlets of the day the news programme focused on seven important topics – new parliament building in Kutaisi, military and industrial parades, President’s meeting with the population affected by natural disaster, photo album – Georgia’s new architecture and concerts in Kutaisi and Tbilisi.
The news program was being on from Batumi and Tbilisi-based studios. GPB First Channel and Imedi news programs covered the topics similar to Rustavi 2. Imedi conducted live broadcast from Kutaisi and Tbilisi studios. On the Independence Day the public broadcaster refused to present the program from the studio – presenters reported news from streets in Kutaisi and Tbilisi.
At 16:30 Kutaisi was live on air on all three TV channels. Viewers had a possibility to see the legislators entering the new parliament building. President’s speech which ended at 17:30 was broadcast in full. The military parade followed. After its completion at 19:00 Rustavi 2 aired a 30-minute documentary produced by its journalist Davit Kakulia. The film featured combat vehicles Lazika and Didgori made in Georgia.
Main news programs on all of the three channels focused on the aforementioned seven topics. The only difference was the airtime apportioned – Imedi aired the concert in Kutaisi for an hour, with ten minutes dedicated to the fireworks. Rustavi 2 aired Sukhishvilebi concert in Tbilisi in full.
Maestro TV news outlets too covered the events dedicated to the Independence Day. The TV company broadcast live the journalists from Kutaisi. The recently constructed parliament building was on Maestro TV air at 16:45. President’s speech was broadcast in full and afterwards the military parade. Other events dedicated to the Independence Day were covered in the 21:00 news outlet. Seven minutes were dedicated to live reports from Kutaisi – new parliament building. Second top important topic for Maestro TV was the prisoners’ amnesty. The Independence Day parade was covered within a single 7-minute story. The last story of the news outlet featured President’s visit to the industrial parade.
During daytime news programs Channel 9 broadcast live the journalists from new parliament building in Kutaisi and the parade. In its 18:00 news outlet Channel 9 aired President Saakashvili’s speech delivered at the parade. The parade and the parliament opening ceremony were covered in the 21:00 news outlet, the topics were not the main though. The first news topic touched upon the dispersal of the opposition-organized rally. The given topic was dedicated approximately seven minutes in total. The news program covered the industrial parade too and unlike national channels the Channel 9 showed the citizens having disliked the parade.
Day Two – May 27
On May 27 the TV companies’ different priorities were better visible. Due to the rally organized by the Georgian Dream Maestro TV and Channel 9 changed their programming schedule and launched the live broadcast of the rally participants marching an hour and a half earlier. Several camera crews representing the aforementioned TV companies were working at the rally and the scene was shown from several locations. Maestro TV stopped the broadcast of the rally following Bidzina Ivanishvili’s speech. Channel 9 furthered airing the developments in Freedom Square half an hour longer.
Less time was dedicated to the multi-thousand rally by GBP First Channel, Rustavi 2 and Imedi. The given TV companies covered the event within their news programs according to the preset format. While Maestro and Channel 9 were broadcasting the rally live, the public broadcaster in its 16:00 news outlet covered the rallies being on in Europe as the main topic. The demonstrations organized in Italy and Bosnia and Herzegovina were particularly focused on. The demonstrations topic was followed by the report released by the US Department of State, Hillary Clinton’ visit to Georgia and President’s meeting with entrepreneurs. On the 20th minute of the news program journalist Rati Mujiri reported live, for two minutes, on the rally being on in Freedom Square.
The 15:00 and 18:00 news outlets on Rustavi 2 and 17:00 news program on Imedi started with the rally organized by Georgian Dream. Both conducted live broadcasts from Freedom Square and the speeches delivered by the rally organizers were aired too. The number of people attending the rally was not specified and just few shots were shown featuring the participants. The running time of the coverage of the rally was 15 minutes.
Rustavi 2 selected the Georgian Dream’s rally and the launch of the election campaign as the very first topic for the evening news outlet Kurieri P.S.. Kurieri dedicated around seven minutes to the rally. The journalist did not specify the number of citizens participating in the rally, it has been stressed though that Georgian Dream managed to gather a lot of people. Long and close-up shots clearly featured the amount of people having gathered in Freedom Square. In the course of the news outlet all of the political leaders of the Georgian Dream talked about future plans and the importance of populous rally.
On Sundays GPB First Channel and Imedi have no evening news programs but Eka Kvesitadze’s talk show on GPB First Channel discussed the rally. Imedi was customarily airing Women’s Logic.
Neither Maestro and Channel 9 have evening news programs on Sundays but through the violation of the programming the aforementioned channels still aired 21:00 news on May 27.
Channel 9 apportioned 20 minutes to the Georgian Dream’s rally dedicated to the election campaign. The channel thoroughly discussed the rally process as well as the participants, and the representatives of culture having joined the rally. The channel also aired experts’ assessments in regard to the May 27 developments. According to the pundits Georgian Dream is going to win the elections. The amount of people was stressed in the stories.
The May 27 rally was the main topic for Maestro. The rally started with the gathering of the participants. Almost all of the political figures partaking in the rally were speaking in the TV stories. Nino Burjanadze, the leader of the opposition People's Assembly, Gubaz Sanikidze of the Coalition, and political scientist Soso Tsintsadze were offered live air. The channel also aired the evaluation of the May 27 rally by the majority. The channel reviewed the foreign media response to the rally, stressed the amount of rally participants and featured the immigrants having responded to the rally. The running time of the stories made up 36 minutes in total.