Constitutional Court has declared the TV Stations’ Claim Admissible

"Constitutional Court of Georgia has confirmed the admissibility of the TV Stations’ claim and will examine the case of "Mtavari Arkhi Ltd", "TV Pirveli Ltd", "TV Kavkasia Ltd", and "Formula Ltd" against the Parliament of Georgia” on the merits.

The claimants, whose interests in the Court are represented by the GDI, argue that the provisions of the Code on the Rights of the Child and the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting unjustifiably restrict their freedom of expression (Article 17 of the Constitution of Georgia) and do not meet the requirements of the legal certainty of the law (Article 31.9 of the Constitution of Georgia).

In particular, the disputed norms oblige the broadcaster to protect minors from the information deemed dangerous for the child and prohibit the transmission of programs containing such information. Thus, the challenged norms deprive the claimants and/or limit the possibility to disseminate information of the specific content in the desired way/at the desired time. According to the claimants, regulations adopted on the grounds of protecting children's rights are vague, following in turn allows the content to be subject to the contextual regulations despite it being protected by the freedom of expression and its need to be restricted not being outweighed by the interests of protecting children's rights. At the same time, ambiguity of the disputed norms has "a chilling effect" on the one hand, and the signs of censorship, on the other. It forces broadcasters to be in constant coordination with the National Communications Commission and, for the fear of sanctions, to pre-determine the content of the programs or program materials they submit, since the National Communications Commission has the leverage to impose sanctions on the broadcaster at any time.

The Constitutional Court of Georgia has declared the main part of the claim admissible, however has stated that the scope of freedom of creativity (Article 20 of the Constitution of Georgia) does not cover the distribution of creative work, which is rather protected by freedom of expression. In addition, the Court rejected the claimant's motion to suspend the disputed norms until a final decision was made on the case.

It is noteworthy that with the use and on the basis of the disputed norms, the National Communications Commission has repeatedly imposed liability on a few TV stations. That is why we believe that it is important for the Constitutional Court of Georgia to satisfy the claim so that the risks of unjustified interference by the Commission in the media and freedom of expression shall not increase.

GDI continues working on the matters of media freedom, including representation on the case, in partnership and with the support of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) under the project called - “Protection of media freedom by improving media regulations in law, administrative practice and case law”.