On May 22, 2012 72 media outlets signed an address to the President of Georgia and the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia making a request to examine the draft bill worked out within the This Concern You campaign.
The draft bill involves amendments to several laws. The Georgian Law on Broadcasting will be added an article introducing a new term “mandatory transit.” According to the new norm cable providers shall include into their service package a public broadcaster, community and/or general broadcasting license holders. And the TV companies themselves will have no right to refuse cable companies to the transit of broadcasting. Moreover, the definitions for subliminal advertising and PSAs have been provided, the rules and prices for ad placement in the run-up to elections have changed.
According to the address in case of the approval the amendments TV companies, and especially the regional broadcasters with scarce income, will have the means of subsistence and the airtime apportioned for free political advertising will no longer be a heavy burden to them.
“The relationship between cable operators and broadcasters will be regulated in a fair way and the general license holders will face no obstruction to operate within their broadcasting zones,” reads the address.
“It’s a test for the authorities. Provided they disapprove the draft bill it means they have no will to have transparent elections,” said Maestro TV co-founder Mamuka Glonti prior to the beginning of accepting signatures to the address.
International experts, said Lasha Tugushi, Editor, the Georgian daily Rezonansi, got acquainted with the address and provided a positive assessment.
72 signatories include 26 TV companies, 24 newspapers, eight online editions, 11 NGOs working on media issues and three independent journalists Nino Zhizhilashvili, Tamar Chikovani and Rezo Sakevarishvili.
Out of Tbilisi-based TV companies the list of signatories to the address includes only Maestro, Channel 9 and Kavkasia even though in the course of the May 17 examination of the draft bill Levan Gakheladze, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB) consented to the proposed amendments and made only few remarks, but he did not sign the address.
According to the campaign participant Magda Popiashvili communication with GPB failed over the issue.
“Somehow I was unable to get in touch with Levan Gakheladze therefore I am unaware of the answer. GPB too might join the address,” said Magda Popiashvili reporting to Media.ge.
Andro Alavidze of the Parliamentary Committee for Legal Issues pledged the draft bill would be examined at the Committee hearing and afterwards the decision will be made by the legislators in regard to the approval of amendments.