Transparency International – Georgia released its report today on advertising revenue and trends in the TV advertising market in 2021. The report found the ruling party’s mouthpiece, Imedi TV dominated the media market, followed by UNM-linked Mtavari Arkhi, reflecting sharp TV media polarization.
The report is based on the data from the Georgian National Communications Commission and the State Audit Office. It found that while COVID-19-related restrictions continued to impact revenue, in comparison with 2020, the TV advertising market grew by GEL 7.8 million (USD 2.77 million) and amounted to a total of GEL 83.1 million (USD 29.57 million).
Pro-governmental TV Imedi held the lead 37.4% of the TV advertising market, with ad revenue totaling GEL 31.1 million (USD 11.06 million). The main opposition channel, Mtavari Arkhi TV was coming second with 14.3% of the market (GEL 11.9 million (USD 4.23 million), and overtook Rustavi 2 (13.4%, GEL 11.1 million (USD 3.95 million)). Rustavi 2 has experienced the largest decline – 63.4% – in advertising revenue in recent years which “coincided with the change of owner” the report says.
Following the leaders are TV Pirveli – GEL 7 million (USD 2.49 million), Formula – GEL 5.9 million (USD 2.09 million), POS TV – GEL 4.7 million (USD 1.67 million), Silknet – GEL 3.5 million (1.24 million), the Georgian Public Broadcaster – GEL 2.4 million (USD 854,135), and others – GEL 5.4 million (USD 1.92 million).
Revenue from Political Advertising
Imedi TV also dominates in revenue received from political advertising, GEL 975,037 (USD 347,005), followed by Rustavi 2 – GEL 785,513 (USD 279,556), TV Pirveli – GEL 608,686 (USD 216,625), Mtavari Arkhi TV – GEL 497,773 (USD 177,152), POS TV – GEL 263,847 (USD 93,900), and others – GEL 713,258 (USD 253,841).
Notably, the party affiliations are quite apparent. The ruling Georgian Dream placed its most political advertisements with TV Imedi, followed by Rustavi 2, which treads a milder pro-governmental line, and POS-TV, with hardline leanings. POS TV was recently acquired and pledged support to a hardline sovereignist grouping People Power. Georgian Dream refrained from placing any political advertisements on opposition-minded Mtavari Arkhi TV, Formula, and TV Pirveli.
Meanwhile the United National Movement (UNM), the largest opposition party in Georgia, advertised mainly with its mouthpiece, Mtavari Arkhi TV, and Formula which, albeit opposition-leaning, does not pledge UNM all-out support. UNM did not place ads on TV Imedi.
Interestingly, centrist, Lelo for Georgia’s political advertisements went to TV Pirveli and Mtavari Arkhi TV.
TVs Lose Money
TV business in Georgia is not profitable and all surveyed channels were losing money. Importantly the revenue/losses data is mostly dating from 2020, rather than 2021, which creates some data inconsistency.
In 2020 the five top channels ended the year in red: Imedi TV was down GEL 74.4 million (USD 26.48 million), Rustavi 2 – GEL 42.45 million, Formula TV – GEL 34.46 million, Mtavari Arkhi TV – GEL 17.57 million, and TV Pirveli – GEL 1.94 million.
Still, the report reads the aggregate TV income has been increasing from 2017 when it was GEL 97.5 million (USD 34.69 million) to 2021 when it amounted to a total of GEL 139.8 million (USD 49.75 million).
The data is incomplete regarding the revenue sources that are used to cover these arrears, but in the clearest of cases quoted, Formula TV received GEL 37.5 million in 2021 all from its owner and donor Davit Kezerashvili.
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