Pursuant to Article 14 of the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting and the Code of Conduct of Broadcasters adopted by the Georgian National Communication Commission (GNCC) in 2009, broadcasters are obliged to establish an efficient complains mechanism for considering customers’ complaints.
If a broadcaster breaches the Code of Conduct, apply to us through filling out a provided questionnaire and the Media Development Foundation, MDF will present your complaint in a broadcaster's self-regulation body.
With the support of the National Endowment for
Democracy (NED), the Media Development Foundation is implementing the project,
which aims at strengthening editorial independence of the media and improving professional
standards of journalists. Within the framework of the project, one-year monitoring
of media content will be conducted to outline editorial policies of TV news
programs and create a factual database necessary for further analysis.
This second report highlights the key findings of a month-long
monitoring conducted from 1 to 30 November, 2015.
The subjects of monitoring: Rustavi 2, Imedi, Georgian
Public Broadcaster (GPB), Maestro, Tabula and GDS.
The TV channels that take leading positions in the Nielsen
Television Audience Measurement’s (TVMR) ratings and broadcast daily news
programs were selected as the subjects of monitoring. Studies on media ownership
by Transparency International Georgia concerning political and financial
affiliations of TV companies have also been taken into consideration during the
selection process, as they allow identification of different editorial
policies. It should also be noted that the selected TV companies do not have equal
broadcast coverage areas or human and financial resources that affects the diversity
in programming. The goal of this study, however, is to demonstrate tendencies
based on the content, rather than on quantitative data.
Study of the TV news programs’ editorial policies is
conducted through daily monitoring of their prime time news programs, except
weekends. These programs are: Kurieri, Rustavi 2 (9pm); Qronika, Imedi (8pm);
Moambe, GPB (8pm); Kontaqti Rvaze, Maestro (8pm), Fokusi, Tabula (7pm); 20/30,
The study is conducted employing both quantitative
and qualitative methods.
The priority topics of the main news program, which
are analyzed according to selection of main topics for the first and second blocks
of news programs, as well as according to the format (story, footage, placement
in the program) of topics of public interest are subject to monitoring. In case
of GPB, where the news program (Moambe) is not separated by commercials and
commercial breaks, the separation is made based on conditional minutes (the
first 15-20 minute intervals). Editorial policy is also assessed through
identifying the missing topics of high public interest. Similarities and differences are identified and
media outlets with identical information policies are compared during
Comparison of TV channels’ news programs is made according
to thematic programming. Weather, international
news (if not related to Georgia’s foreign policy or domestic affairs), culture
and sport (if not related to any political or public development in the sphere
of culture or sport, and if only the sport and culture issues are covered) are omitted
during the analysis.
Monitoring of the main news programs for November
1-30 has revealed the following tendencies:
In terms of
reporting on priority topics, only 7% of priority topics covered by news
programs coincided with each other. In particular, the priority topics of
all news programs for November included the developments around Rustavi 2
TV, as well as the wiretapped recordings of former Georgian officials
leaked on the Ukrainian website.
In terms of
news programming, the greatest similarity in priority topics was revealed
between Rustavi 2 TV and Tabula. These two TV channels prioritized common
or similar topics. Frequently, even the sequence of topics coincided with
each other. For example, on November 13, only Rustavi 2 TV and Tabula
aired as the third story the resolution initiatedby
the opposition politicians (UNM) against remanding Rustavi 2 TV supporters
In terms of
programming, a different tendency was revealed by Qronika news program
aired by Imedi TV and Kontaqti aired by Maestro TV. In addition, Maestro
TV was distinguished not only by priority topics, but, in some cases, by
covering a number of different issues in its news program. For example, on
November 11, when Rustavi 2 TV case was the priority topic for all news
programs, Maestro TV started its news program with assessments about MP
by-elections held in Sagarejo on October 31. This issue was not top news
and therefore other televisions did not prioritize it. Moreover, it was
only Maestro TV that covered the Sagarejo by-elections on that day. In
addition, most topics covered by Maestro TV on November 11 were not
similar to those covered by other news programs.
Table No 1. The November 11 news programs
of political news coverage
The results of monitoring have made clear that TV
channels dedicated a great part of their news programs’ schedule to political
issues. Four major tendencies were revealed in common topics: 1. Coverage of
news stories containing criticism towards the current authorities, involving
the government’s ineffective work; negative international assessments; facts of
accusing the government of pressure by some citizens or coverage of indecent
acts by some officials; 2. The activities carried out by the authorities,
involving coverage of the government’s work, visits, meetings, positive
international assessments, studies and reports; 3. Criticizing the opposition
that was mostly limited by airing the stories slamming one particular political
party – the United National Movement (UNM); 4. Opposition’s activities.
involving criticism of the government
monitoring has revealed that two TV channels – Rustavi 2 and Maestro
covered more stories containing criticism of the current government. In most cases,
the stories were about the government’s ineffective work and protest
expressed against it. For example, on November 30, Rustavi 2 aired as its first story and Maestro TV
as its third story the issue of free canteens in connection with the remarks
made by Rima Beradze, member of the Tbilisi City Assembly. Journalists
tried to clarify whether the food worth 1.18 Tetri allocated to socially vulnerable
people meets the requirement for average daily consumption of calories per
person. Despite the remarks made by some representatives of the Tbilisi City
Hall, according to which the menu of free canteens was made in full
compliance with the requirements, in the stories the beneficiaries
complained not only about a small amount of food, but also about its
quality, while experts talked about the need of its changing and
increasing its amount.
Imedi, GPB and Tabula covered the stories containing criticism of the government with almost the same
intensity. As far as GDS is concerned, it covered fewer stories with criticism
towards the current government than others.
of the government’s activities
In terms of coverage of the government’s
activities, GPB took a leading position and it mostly covered the stories about
governmental visits, meetings and government’s effective work. For example, in
its November 3 news program, GPB aired the story about complete rehabilitation
of the highway damaged by the June 13 flood. Other TV channels did not cover
this issue at all.
Rustavi 2 TV came next in terms of covering
the government’s activities, which, like GPB, dedicated most of its stories to
coverage of foreign visits and activities of various government agencies.
Maestro TV was the third, followed by Tabula, Imedi and GDS.
It should also be noted that in the part
of international assessments, one and the same topic could simultaneously
become the subject of the criticism-containing, as well as the neutral coverage
. For example, the November 26 news programs covered the stories about debates
on the issue of Georgia in the European
Parliament. GBP and Rustavi 2 covered the same topic, though from different
angles, as the third story and the sixth story, respectively. In particular,
according to the story aired by Rustavi 2 TV, during the session in Strasbourg,
MEPs focused on selective justice, media and political pluralism in Georgia;
one of the speakers tore Stalin’s photo into pieces and noted that Georgia
distances itself from the Soviet past. Another speaker spoke about Bidzina
Ivanishvili’s private interests. GPB covered the European Parliament’s session
only partially and its story did not contain criticism expressed towards the
Georgian government that, for its part, can be considered as an example of
involving criticism towards the opposition
GDS was leading in terms of airing the
stories involving criticism towards the opposition. It should be noted that
these stories were critical of one particular opposition party – the United
National Movement (UNM). A share of the stories involving criticism towards the
opposition aired by the TV channel’s news program in total news programming
schedule was six times more than the
shares of stories on the same topic aired by other TV channels, which were represented
by almost the same indicators.
some cases, GDS covered the stories containing criticismof the previous
authorities and the investigations into those high-profile cases that took
place under their rule. For example, GDS’ November programming contained a
number of issues, involving the facts of prison torture, where former inmates
were demanding punishment of all perpetrators; the demand of Igor Giorgadze’s (former
minister of security, accused in organizing terroristic act against President
Shevardnadze) supporters to aggravate punishment for Akhalaia and Merabishvili
(former UNM ministers), where they condemned illegal actions carried out
against them in 2005-2006; demand of former prisoners charged with the attempt
of coup d’etat over the operation Enveridated back to 2010, where they requested
legal lifting of the status of the accusedfrom them.
As far as the opposition’s activities are concerned,
Tabula covered this issue most intensively. This TV channel was distinguished
by comparatively intensive coverage of UNM’s activities. For example, only
Tabula aired the story on UNM’s anti-crisis plan involving abolition of profit
tax. Tabula was followed by Rustavi 2, GDS, GPB and Maestro. As it appeared, Imedi
TV covered the opposition’s activities with less intensity.
The monitoring has revealed the most visible
difference in Maestro’s information policy:
covered by Maestro TV were frequently different from those covered by
other TV channels both thematically and in terms of prioritization.
clearest difference was observed on November 10, when the first story
aired by the most news programs was about the messages of EU High
Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, , Federica
Mogherini, whereas Maestro aired this issue as its tenth story. The TV
channel prioritized the issue of seizing a large amount of money robbed from
the cash-in-transit vehicle belonging to the Bank of Georgia.
Table No 2. The November 10 news programs
TV’s November 26 news program dedicated its first story to the meeting
between the French and Russian Presidents in Moscow. The French
President’s visit was covered through a journalist’s live broadcast and the
news story also contained remarks made by Russian State Duma lawmakers. It
should be noted that other TV channels, except Imedi, did not cover this
issue as a separate topic. Imedi TV covered the issue as its 18th story in the third block in a form of overlapping. Among the main topics
of other news programs for November 26 were parliamentary hearings on
confirmation of new Chief Prosecutor, Irakli Shotadze, as well as the 6th Forum of Eastern Partnership, which was covered by Maestro as its ninth
story in a form of overlapping.
Table No 3. The November 26 news programs
of separate cases
The fact of
lexical manipulation was observed in the November 2 news program of GDS .
In particular, a journalist gave the following assessment to the issue of wiretapped
recording between ex-President Saakashvili and Nika Gvaramia, the Head of Rustavi
2 : "The Bloodshed announced by Saakashvili”, although neither the authenticity
of the recording, nor the issue of its legality had been clarified. In
addition, the word "announcement” did not comply in its essence with
covering the issue through the observance of ethical standards.
it should be noted that starting an investigation into the wiretapped
recordings and questioning all persons involved in them was the priority
topic of the November 4 news programs. When reporting on this topic,
Rustavi 2raised the issue of authenticity of recordings and legality of
opening the investigation and dedicated the second story of its news
program to it. Tabula TV also showed interest towards the legality of
launching the investigation. GPB aired the story related to wiretapped
recordings with a title "Investigation under Article 315,” the first part
of which involves the accusation of "conspiracy, attempt of coup d’etat or
topics, which mostly aimed at reporting on investigative journalism, were
aired by Rustavi 2, Maestro and GDS news programs. Moreover, Rustavi 2 and
Maestro mostly aired the stories critical of the current authorities and
GDS aired the stories critical of the previous authorities. In addition,
Rustavi 2 TV aired the stories in its news program critical of one
particular person, Bidzina Ivanishvili. For example, the fifth story of
Rustavi 2 TV’s November 24 news program covered the case of Bidzina
Ivanishvili’s former partner, Arcadi Gaydamak. The Russian-born
billionaire, who previously led the Russian bank Rossiiskii Kredit and was
hiding for six years, finally surrendered himself to France authorities.
He was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison by a French court
for masterminding the trafficking of Soviet-made weapons to Angola during
its civil war in the 1990s. In the story, the opposition spoke about
Ivanishvili’s links with the Angolagate case. Other TV channels did not
cover this issue even during the following days. But judging by the
information about ex-PM Ivanishvili, it is of high public interest and
therefore the issue can be considered a topic omitted by other TV channels
rather than an independent topic.
Maestro TV covered
in its news program, in frequent cases, comprehensively investigated
independent topics, which were prepared through requesting public
information. Some stories were critical of the current government and
reported on high salaries, bonuses, additions or non-purposeful spending
by some government officials. For example, the November 20 news program
aired the story titled "Highest-paid employee of the Tbilisi City Hall”, which
was about a high salary of one of the employees of the Public Relations
Department at the Tbilisi City Hall. The name of this employee was not
identified in the story, but it was emphasized that the salary of this
person even exceeded Mayor Davit Narmania’s salary.
on independent topics prepared by GDS TV were mostly critical of the
previous authorities and covered the assessments made by negatively
disposed respondents. On November 9 the TV channel dedicated the fourth
story of its news program under the title "Profession - Raider” to the appearance
of UNM supporter, Badri Basishvili at the rally in the yard of Rustavi 2
TV headquarters in Tbilisi. According to the long story, under the
previous authorities, Basishvili was organizing raids and violent actions
topics omitted from news programs
GDS had the
highest indicators in terms of omitting the topics of relatively high
public interest that may be related to insufficient time allocated for
news program; it may also be related to its editorial policy, where
certain peculiarities were revealed. In particular, the topics omitted by
the TV channel mostly covered the stories critical of the current
government, as well as criminal incidents and issues covering conflict
regions. For example, GDS did not cover the statement made by State
Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality, Paata Zakareishvili, which
triggered sharp assessments from both the ruling coalition and the
opposition. The society slammed the minister for his opinions voiced in
the statement, according to which Abkhazia has never been a part of
covered official visits to a lesser extent that may be related either to the
lack of necessary resources, or to the information policy. However, it
should be noted that the news program dedicated the greatest part of its
programming to coverage of the government’s activities.
also mostly omitted the stories critical of the government; however, this
fact could not serve as an indicator of information policy, since Maestro
had absolutely different, in-depth stories, which somehow covered the
issues critical of the government or its separate representatives.
important topics omitted by GPB revealed the issues both critical of the
government and covering its activities.
Imedi TV also omitted the issues both critical of the government and
covering its activities. It demonstrated a different tendency by omitting
the topics on conflict regions.
TV omitted the topics of public interest to a lesser extent. Among the
omitted topics were conflict regions, criminal cases and, almost equally,
the issues critical of the government and covering its activities.
of important topics omitted from news programs
In terms of
programming, TV channels showed more or less different tendencies. Among
the priority topics of Rustavi 2 TV’s November news programs were
politics, media and foreign relations. It appeared that the TV channel
covered social topics and conflict regions to a lesser extent.
foreign relations and criminality were among Imedi TV’s priority topics.
It was revealed that Imedi TV covered judicial and social issues to a
As far as
GPB is concerned, it was distinguished from other TV channels by a
diversity of covered topics. However, politics was a priority topic here
too, followed by foreign relations and judiciary. Media, criminality,
conflict regions and social issues were covered with equal frequency. It
should also be noted that GPB and Maestro covered the topic of conflict
regions more extensively than other TV channels.
Rustavi 2 TV, Maestro TV also covered politics, media and foreign
relations as its priority topics. It aired the stories covering judiciary
and social issues less extensively than other televisions.
was a priority topic for GDS accounting for 52% of all stories covered in
its news programs, followed by judiciary, criminality and culture. The TV
channel covered conflict regions less extensively.
share of Tabula’s thematic programming also comes to politics. The TV
channel extensively covered judiciary and foreign relations.
monitoring has revealed that politics is a priority topic for all TV
channels. Most news programs provided extensive coverage of foreign
relations, media and law, while social, business and economic issues were
covered less extensively.
 "g) Public interest – the
interest within society (and not a simple curiosity of individuals) to the
events related to the exercise of public self-government in a democratic state;
The Law of Georgia on the Freedom of Speech and Expression