On October 29, UNDP and EU Delegation to Georgia released media monitoring interim reports of the October 31 parliamentary elections, stating that as election day nears “Georgian media are becoming more polarized and less balanced in their reporting.”
The media monitoring reports cover a period from September 1 to October 15, analyzing elections-related coverage from 12 television, 10 radio, 8 print and 13 online outlets. The research is funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP with the help of Caucasus Research Resource Centers Georgia, the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics and Internews Georgia.
According to research, television channels are following the role of foreign actors in Georgian elections, focusing on the EU, U.S., NATO and Russia, with western countries and alliances largely portrayed in a positive light. Research finds that TV channels highlight the topic of Russian interference in Georgia’s affairs, and having “ties with Russia” is used for discrediting political actors.
Another report, on TV talk shows, says polarization in broadcast media is growing, meanwhile, representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party refuse to visit pro-opposition TV Pirveli, Formula TV and Mtavari Arkhi TV channels and to participate in debates on Palitra TV.
Report on press finds that print media features predominantly negative coverage of all political actors and often relies on unverified sources. “Some newspapers continue to use insulting and denigrating terminology,” the report adds.
Digital outlets, according to the online media monitoring report, are “meeting a higher journalistic standard, covering a wider range of electoral players and refraining from abusive language.” However, the research finds that while none of the online media platforms showed a “particularly positive” attitude towards opposition parties, four outlets constantly attempted to “portray the Government positively and to discredit politicians belonging to the opposition.”
Radio news program monitoring finds that radio is the most balanced and neutral media, but falls short on influence and exclusive editorial content.
Social media monitoring reveals that most widely shared posts on Facebook “are the media products produced by the high-ranking and well-known media outlets, and the especially problematic materials get less interaction from users.”
UNDP says media monitoring will continue through the electoral cycle, with final reports available at the end of the year.