Based on the draft bill worked out by Media Advocacy Coalition the rule of the composition of the Board of Trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcasting shall completely change. The legislative proposal, which implies amendments to the Georgian Law on Broadcasting was presented to the Parliament of Georgia on December 26. The draft also implies the rule of transformation of Adjara Television into public broadcaster and financial transparency of broadcasters.
Board of Trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcasting
According to the draft bill the Board of Trustees should be manned with nine people instead of 15. Two of them appointed by Public Defender, three elected by parliamentary majority (in case of the absence of the parliamentary majority by the faction with the most of the members), and three by the rest of MPs. One member of the Board of Trustees should be the chairperson of the Adjara AR public broadcaster.
The nominees having made through based on Public Defender’s quota is selected by Public Defender. The applicant should be holding Master’s degree and have no less than 10-year experience, including 5-year experience in journalism, human rights, financial and/or scientific field.
The parliamentary majority elects its nominees similar to Public Defender, through open contest. Prior to elections setting up 5-member commission manned with specialists representing five different fields.
Provided the vacancy belongs to the parliamentary majority quota he Commissioner is elected by the parliamentary majority. If there are more than one vacancies in place, based on both quotas of parliamentary majority and the rest of MPs the Commissioner is first elected through parliamentary majority quota and afterwards by the rest of MPs.
According to the draft bill the Board of Trustees is entitled to dismiss Board chairperson/ deputy chairperson with the consent of the Board majority. Based on a joint written application submitted by at least three members of the Board of Trustees the issue over the dismissal can be raised.
In line with the draft bill developed by the Coalition the Board of Trustees is expanded its authority. Moreover, the draft outlines main terms of labor contracts for GPB Staff, including pre-term termination of contracts. Probation period should be no longer than two months, and the validity of the labor contract no less than one year, except for technical staff whose labor contracts shall be no less than five years (with the exception of the programs whose validity is less than one year).
The tenure of Director General shall be five years instead f six. The criteria for the nominees to the GPB top position have been outlined as well. A nominee must have wide public trust, a higher education and at least 10 years work experience, including no less than 3 years in management and no less than 5 years in the field of journalism, human rights or science.
“Current practice has identified the drawbacks with the election of the GPB managing bodies. According to currently applied norms the Board of Trustees is set up based on a decision by a sole person, this is to say President selects and submits candidates to the Parliament. Interested groups have no possibility to take part in the process proposing selected candidates. The goal of the draft is to secure maxim engagement of interested individuals in the Board selection process,” reads the explanatory note attached to the draft.
Adjarian Public Broadcaster
The new draft bill implies changes at Adjara television too. One of the drafts over the transformation of Adjara TV into separate public broadcaster has already been registered.
According to the draft bill developed by the Coalition there should be the only public broadcaster operating in the country and broadcasting shall be conducted through four frequencies instead of three, one of the channels will be Adjara TV.
The budget for Adjara AR and the public broadcaster will be common and amount to no less than 0,15 percent of GDP of previous year. Currently the public broadcaster’s budget is equal to no less than 0,12 percent of GDP.
Mandatory transit, according to the draft, does not include only pre-election period and continues all through non-election period up to the switchover to digital broadcasting, June 15, 2015. Based on the same draft the election administration is authorized to procure broadcaster’s service to produce and/or transmit the information determined in the election legislation.
Financial Transparency of Broadcasters
In the explanatory note the authors of the draft bill pointed out that the changes made in the aftermath of the October 1, 2012 Parliamentary Elections in terms of media owners absolute importance of securing the transparency of funding.
Hence, according to the draft the responsibility of the broadcasting license holder boosts. The license holder shall annually, until May 1, present GNCC and upload on the website the report on the activities carried out in the previous year, in particular the fulfillment of the requirements of the Georgian legislation, licensing terms and Code of Conduct, activities planned for the future and sources of funding.
The report shall be attached with the audit conclusion. Audit shall be carried out in compliance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), according to the interpretation of the IFRS Committee. Moreover, the national broadcasting license holder shall be audited by one of the auditors selected by the Commission.
Also, the national broadcasting license holder shall annually, until May 1, deliver the Commission and upload on website the report on its assets and liabilities, as well as the investments made within the relevant period (indicating the amount of investments and investors).
Within 15 days off the end of every quarter the Commission shall be submitted a full report on daily length of broadcasting and advertising (including prime time) as well as quarterly revenue from advertising. The report, within 24 hours, shall be posted on the broadcaster’s website.