GDI has submitted comments and recommendations on the draft law on broadcasting to the parliament

In response to legislative changes Initiated On September 7, 2022, by the "Georgian Dream" MPs regarding draft amendments to the Broadcasting Law of Georgia, GDI has submitted comments and recommendations to the Parliament of Georgia.

We are concerned by both the content of the draft law as well as the fact that the Parliament took only the shortest possible time (7 days since the publication of the draft) to consider such a complicated and multi-faceted law on the first reading, with no prior consultations.

Within the framework of the Association Agreement concluded between Georgia and the European Union, Georgia has an obligation to harmonize the legislation, including legal norms regulating the media, with the European Union system. Thus, bringing Georgian legislation into compliance with the audio-visual media service directive was named as the legal basis for legislative changes.

However, GDI believes that the draft adopted by the Parliament on the first reading a) trespassed the Directive's objectives, b) contradicts Article 7 of the European Commission Recommendation on granting Georgia the status of a candidate country of the European Union, c) strengthens the repressive elements in the context of media environment regulation, and d) imposes an unjustified legal burden on broadcasters.

Systemic analysis of the draft law has allowed GDI to conclude that the process of integration with the European Union is not facilitated and is actually hindered in principle by legal norms that concern:

  •  Immediate entry into force of the GNCC's decisions despite the broadcaster's appeals to the court- Current legal framework prescribes that if the broadcaster appeals to the decision of the Commission, the decision will be suspended. In contrast, the bill states that if a broadcaster appeals to the GNCC's legal acts, they shall not be suspended. Considering that the Directive does not impose the obligation of such regulation, the initiated amendment strengthens the repressive elements in the media environment.

  • The GNCC's mandate to oversee the right of reply- The aforementioned legislative amendment unjustifiably expands the Commission's mandate in cases of possible defamation broadcasted by media, bypassing judicial control and declaring the broadcaster a lawbreaker. Considering that Georgian legislation already equips interested parties with legal protection mechanisms equivalent to the "right of reply," both within the framework of the self-regulation mechanism and through judicial control (the right to file a lawsuit on defamation disputes), such regulation unjustifiably limits the freedom of broadcasters.

  • Regulation of "hate speech"- according to the draft law, in the case of hate speech, the author of the suit has the opportunity, instead of using the self-regulation mechanism (which means appealing to the media company itself), to apply to the Communications Commission and request to sanction the broadcaster. The obligation to harmonize national legislation with the EU legislation does not require the regulation of hate speech by a state regulatory body, and the use of another alternative mechanism/model of the regulation (e.g., self-regulation or co-regulation) is not a violation of it. Considering the socio-political context in Georgia, the draft law creates a risk of abuse of the ban on hate speech and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and media; this risk is based on the past activities of the Commission.

GDI urges the Parliament not to approve the legal norms regulating the above-mentioned issues and to start consultations with experts/media and civil organizations working on media issues.


GDI works on the discussed issue with the support of the USAID Rule of Law Program.