On October 31, 2017, the Media Development Foundation (MDF) filed a lawsuit in Tbilisi City Court against the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC). The lawsuit claims that the Commission does not release the information about the revenues of broadcasters in the first and second quarters of 2017 (January-June), thus neglecting the financial transparency standard envisaged by legislation.
According to Article 70/4 of the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting, a broadcaster shall submit the reporting forms to the Commission within 15 days after the end of each quarter, while the Commission shall publish the reporting forms within seven days after receiving them (Article 70/41 of the Law on Broadcasting). Accordingly, the Commission should have posted the data for the first quarter of 2017 on its analytical website no later than April 22 and the second quarter data – no later than July 22.
Detailed information by the commission about the financial transparency of media outlets is provided in MDF’s report Pre-Election Financial Media Environment 2017. The findings of this report were also reflected in the statement of the NDI International Observation Mission to Georgia’s October 21, 2017 local government elections. In particular, the statement released on October 22 reads: "The GNCC has been accused of failing to disclose information on the revenues (advertisements, sponsorships, and donations) of broadcasters. The agency, which is required by law to publish quarterly reports, has not shared any data since March, making it impossible for observer groups to effectively monitor the media’s financial transparency and track campaign donations. While the GNCC explains that there were technical errors in the revenue declaration files of two broadcasters, it notably has not published data on any station.”
MDF believes that to ensure full assessment of pre-election environment, it is essential for the public to have comprehensive information about financial resources used by media outlets, involving commercial and election ads, as well as private donations, various services and other revenues. Comprehensive information about this issue was available only at the website of the Georgian National Communications Commission from 2013 till the beginning of 2017.