Press freedom has slightly improved in Georgia, yet the country’s position remained unchanged in the ranking by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released on April 21.
Georgia, according to the survey, is ranked 60th in the table of 180 countries with 28.59 points. Last year, Georgia had 28.98 points.
The index rankings are based on a scale of 1 to 100, with 0 representing the highest and 100 the lowest level of press freedom.
None of the former Soviet Union countries, except for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, ranking 14th, 22nd and 28th places, respectively, are ahead of Georgia. Armenia has 28.60 points, taking the 61st place.
“Georgia’s media are pluralist but still very polarized,” RSF highlighted.
According to Paris-based watchdog, “the reforms of recent years [in Georgia] have brought improvements in media ownership transparency and satellite TV pluralism, but owners still often call the shots on editorial content.”
RSF referred to developments around Rustavi 2 TV in 2019. “In compliance with a European Court of Human Rights ruling, Rustavi 2, the main national opposition TV channel, was restored to a previous owner, resulting in a complete change of its editorial policy* and in the resignation of most of its journalists,” said RSF, adding that “two new pro-opposition TV channels emerged as a consequence of the conflict.”
“Adjara TV, a regional public television channel, has meanwhile suffered from repeated pressure to support a particular party,” the watchdog emphasized.
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According to RSF, “police violence against journalists is less frequent but continues, and threats are still common.”
The assessment also touched upon the abduction of Azerbaijani dissident journalist Afgan Mukhtarli from the Georgian capital, saying that “the investigation… has yet to produce any convincing explanation of how it happened.”
Georgia was ranked 100th in the similar index by RSF in 2013.
The degree of freedom is determined by pooling the responses of experts to a questionnaire devised by the Reporters Without Borders. This qualitative analysis is then combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.