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OSCE Monitoring: Media Lacks Balance in Campaign Coverage

A lack of balance in the prime time news coverage of presidential candidates on most monitored TV stations has been observed, according to the OSCE/ODIHR preliminary media monitoring results.


The report said that between December 7 and December 20 the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) devoted 41% of its political and election news coverage to incumbent candidate Mikheil Saakashvili. 99% of this coverage was positive or neutral in tone, according to the interim report. The next most covered candidate by the GPB, Davit Gamkrelidze, received 17% of the coverage, followed by Levan Gachechiladze with 16% and Shalva Natelashvili with 13%. The tone of coverage of these candidates was also mostly positive and neutral, according to the report.


The two nationwide private TV stations, Rustavi 2 and Mze, both part of one media holding company, have adopted a similar approach to the GPB’s, devoting “the bulk of their news coverage to Mr. Saakashvili.”


Imedi TV, owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili (himself a presidential candidate who said he planned to withdraw from the race) dedicated the highest share of its prime time political and election-related news coverage to Saakashvili – 34%.
 
“While some 45% of Mr. Saakashvili’s coverage [by Imedi TV] was positive in tone, as much as 15% was negative,” the report reads.


The next most covered candidates by Imedi TV were Levan Gachechiladze and Badri Patarkatsishvili with 18% and 17%, respectively. “The tone of their coverage was mainly neutral or positive,” the report stated.


Tbilisi-based local television station Kavkasia showed “a different picture” and provided more time to opposition candidates – Shalva Natelashvili, Davit Gamkrelidze and Levan Gachechiladze – and mainly neutral or critical coverage of Mikheil Saakashvili.

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