Advertising by governmental agencies prevail on three Georgian TV channels including Rustavi 2, Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB) and Imedi and that, according to the monitors of the Human Rights Center and lawyer-experts taking part in the monitoring, is in fact “veiled subliminal advertising” under the status of social advertisement.
Speaking at the presentation of the results of the first phase of monitoring held at Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel on July 25 the representatives of the Human Rights Center said the videos I Love Tbilisi, Racha My Love and Anaklia Heartily Waiting For you are aired on the aforementioned channels as social advertisements, even though the nature of the given ads discords with the definition provided in Article 2 of the Georgian Law on Broadcasting.
According to the definition “Social Advertisement” is an advertisement that promotes public good and charitable aim, that is neither commercial or election advertisement nor advertisement of a legal entity of public law, or a governmental organization, as well as advertisement of the services provided by them.
The monitors pointed out that the shots used in videos and a phrase in the song vividly indicates to the achievements made by the incumbent authorities, therefore it’s rather hard to attach the ad to the category of advertisement “that promotes public good and charitable aim.”
The Human Rights Center is conducting media monitoring within the scope of the USAID-funded four-year project Increased Trust in the Electoral Process (ITEP) being implemented by IFES.
The Human Rights Center monitors are conducting monitoring on subliminal political, social and paid ads on national channels, as well as the ones operating in the capital city.
Six TV channels including GPB’s First Channel, Imedi, Rustavi 2, Kavkasia, Maesto and Channel 9 are being monitored. The latter is owned by the spouse of the Georgian Dream coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili.
At this stage the Center has summed up the quantitative data for the periods of June 18 – July 1 and July 2-14, 2012. In the course of the presentation monitors said the full interim report will be published early in August. But the nature and running time of ads identified in the very first phase of monitoring makes monitors think that leading TV channels are divided into “two camps.”
Rustavi 2, Imedi and GPB fall within the one, and Kavkasia, Maestro and Channel 9 within another.
Within the monitoring period, monitors said, Kavkasia, Maestro and Channel 9 essentially aired paid adverting for opposition political forces.
At the very first stage of monitoring the Human Rights Center proposed several recommendations to the authorities. The recommendations are included in the draft legislative amendments proposed to the Parliament of Georgia by independent media and NGOs yet in 2012. The initiative though was not upheld.
In particular, according to the Human Rights Center:
1. Social advertisements aired should have special subscription indicative of the status.
2. In the pre-election period state agencies should be restricted to launch any kind of advertising. The ads of the kind shall be permitted as exceptions in utmost urgency.
3. The definition for the subliminal advertisement should be provided in the law and relevant regulations should be worked out for the TV channels to avoid voters’ manipulation through them.