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TI Georgia Calls for Benefits for Media, Slams Sanctions against TV Pirveli, Mtavari Arkhi

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Transparency International Georgia, a local human rights watchdog, stated on March 21 that the Finance Ministry’s decision to levy the accounts of TV Pirveli and Mtavari Arkhi TV “will significantly undermine the proper functioning of the two independent stations, especially in light of the ongoing severe economic crisis from the coronavirus pandemic.”

In the today’s statement TI Georgia spoke of the “role of the media” during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that “keeping the society well informed plays a critical role in the prevention of the outbreak.”

In this light, the watchdog called on the Government of Georgia “to introduce certain benefits and exemptions for the media, including the postponement of tax payments.”

“We call on the government to bear in mind the invaluable role and functions that the independent media plays in such extraordinary times, and take the respective measures to ensure the unhindered work of the media,” TI Georgia stressed.

Unfortunately, those businesses in Georgia, which had to close down because of the recommendations issued by the Government, are also in a particularly difficult situation. It is exactly the business that is the main source of income for the media, as well as their main customer for TV advertisements. The representatives of the media outlets claim that the crisis has resulted in a sharp decline in their income and that this was the reason why they weren’t able to pay taxes,” TI Georgia stated.

According to TI Georgia, on March 20 the two broadcasters announced that tax authorities had imposed collection on their accounts due to their inability to pay taxes. Minister of Finance Ivane Machavariani stated later that day that accounts of other companies were also collected and the TV stations were not considered as exceptions.

Head of Mtavari Arkhi TV’s news department Nodar Meladze and founder of TV Pirveli Vato Tsereteli have slammed the decision, noting that while the business companies face challenges during the coronavirus outbreak, imposing tax collection on media outlets is unacceptable.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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