Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the controversial amendments to the Law on Broadcasting and returned the bill to the Parliament together with his objections.
The proposal, approved by the Parliament on third reading last month, envisages further expansion of powers of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), and has been heavily criticized by civil society organizations and private broadcasters.
Margvelashvili announced his decision at a news briefing on January 15, saying many questions that had been raised by the bill’s opponents were “clarified” by the GPB management during his meetings. Margvelashvili, however, noted that there were “two very important questions” remaining.
The first, the President explained, related to the media advertisement market. “The advertisement market, which keeps private television stations running, is shrinking and in permanent decline,” he noted, adding that the entry of a publicly-funded television to the market was “problematic.”
“Media diversity is an important value for Georgians and the Georgian democracy and serves as the fourth branch of government, but it will not be able to fulfil its role unless it has sufficient resources and unless media diversity is guaranteed,” Margvelashvili said.
The President also said he shared the idea that procurement regulations required changes, but noted that instead of improving the existing “rigid” Law on Public Procurement, the approved bill entailed “an outright removal of the regulations, that were set to guarantee that the taxpayers money isspent transparently.”
Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze commented the President’s veto decision, saying the bill was “well-thought-out,” but adding that the legislature was ready to “discuss the veto and go through the issues that have been approved by the Parliament.”