Presentation of the Report “Freedom of Media in Georgia”
On 27th May 2022, GDI conducted the presentation of the report „Freedom of Media in Georgia”.
The report reviews the media environment and the degree of protection of journalists in Georgia between 2021 and January-May of 2022. The reportmainly analyses the cases litigated by GDI and presents the results/findings of the GDI’s activities.
As a part of the project, GDI examined legislative initiatives, activities of the Georgian National Communications Commission, and court decisions, provided legal assistance to media organizations and journalists, and systematically analyzed the regulatory framework affecting the media environment through the evaluation of legal documents.
The following trends were identified during the reporting period:
- The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC), to protect the juveniles against the harmful influence, limits the placement of programs of artistic, historical, and cognitive value, and on this basis imposes legal responsibility on broadcasters;
- The GNCC arbitrarily defines “political advertising” and assigns heavy responsibility, mostly to critically-minded broadcasters, in the absence of a clear ban on political advertising in the inter-election/non-pre-election period;
- The GNCC has arbitrarily appropriated to itself the mandate to regulate obscenity, which is to control the content of broadcasters;
- Decisions of the GNCC, in several cases, do not meet reasonable standards of justification, and sometimes even contradict its established practice;
- The statements of government officials about critical media continue to be characterized by aggressive, hatred-filled content. We believe that such statements provoke negative attitudes toward the representatives of the same media in society, which shall be manifested in further violent actions;
- The number of violent crimes against journalists, media managers, and media representatives motivated by discriminatory/professional activity has increased critically. And the response of the judiciary, in most cases, is ineffective or inadequate;
- Cases of illegal covert eavesdropping on journalists’ private communications have been revealed, which is a gross interference in the professional and personal lives of journalists and jeopardizes the free exercise of journalistic activities, media freedom, and the possibility of its effective operation;
- In a dangerous new trend, by filing defamation lawsuits, the government is openly trying to use the courts to suppress critical opinions, and the courts are unjustifiably satisfying such lawsuits and threatening freedom of media, speech, and expression;
- The ruling political party periodically announces and implements initiatives/legislative changes curtailing the freedom of media in the country;
- During the reporting period, cases of biased judiciary on the ground of political opinions against critical media leaders were identified.
The above findings indicate that inadequate exercise of negative and positive obligations by the State regarding the protection of media freedom has a negative impact on the quality of protection of freedom of speech, which, in turn, raises fair questions about the State’s course with respect to democratic development.
The report was prepared in partnership with the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) within the framework of the project: "Protection of media freedom by improving media regulations in law, administrative practice and case law”.