STATE OF PLAY The National Democratic Institute (NDI), a U.S. nonprofit that has been observing the Georgian election environment since the 1990s, said despite important legislative progress, questions remain about unfair advantage of the ruling party, and the use of administration to further its political ends. The report also says it is often hard to distinguish between the parties and they shall take more effort to present policies. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze parried in the name of the Georgian Dream saying the report contains many “errors”, which he wrote down to “who has been doing the research and how”. In any case, he pledged fair and exemplary elections. Let’s hold our breath.
CAN’T HEAR YOU! In an intriguing little sociological research, our team found that youths of 18-25 often literally don’t hear what the politicians are saying. This is mostly because young people don’t watch TV, and unless they have politically engaged activists among their social media friends, political news are likely to pass them by. Who do they get the political info from?! Why, their parents and grandparents, apparently! We are translating that little piece from Georgian now.
DON’T YOU MOCK ME! The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) appealed to the regulatory commission, saying – in a nutshell – that their colleagues from a private Formula TV have no right to mock GBP. It was like this: in a satirical show, whose title is loosely translated as “Rock Bottom”, Formula TV made fun of GBP’s broadcast, implying their pro-government bias. The public broadcaster says since their key asset is “public trust”, the targeted mockery aims to undermine it and shall not stand. At the first glance – bizarre case we could just brush aside. But it could spell a dangerous precedent if the regulation authority chose to satisfy the appeal. Such a decision would not come as a shock, since that very regulator has been controversially running a project slamming opposition broadcasters for a while now. We ran this story back in January, and things have only gone downhill since…
DOING IT FOR THE KIDS? The media sphere has been bubbling up with the news that the changes to the Code on Children’s Rights will allow the regulating authority to impose penalties on broadcasters for airing content deemed unsuitable for children – including violence, overt sexual scenes, etc. – outside the predetermined hours and without appropriate markings. Although in and of themselves, such norms are hardly controversial (indeed, the very same provisions are already included in the media self-regulation rules) the broadcasters and some lawyers rally against giving the regulatory body the right to decide on content – which, they argue, they do not legally have and shall not have if the freedom of expression is to be protected. The case is likely to end up in a Constitutional court.
That’s full lid for today!