Statement of the Media Advocacy Coalition on the abolition of the Adjara TV Board

The Media Advocacy Coalition strongly condemns the law passed by the ruling Georgian Dream party which, among other things, aims to abolish the Advisory Board of Adjara TV. The law undermines the principles of independence of the public broadcaster and freedom of expression, which are the cornerstones of any democratic society. We therefore call on the President of Georgia to veto this law.

A few weeks ago, without any justification, the ruling party initiated a draft law which, among other things, increases the number of members of the Board of Trustees from 9 to 11, removes the ban on being elected as a member of the Board of Trustees for more than one term, increases the terms of office of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, etc. The said bill did not respond to the challenges facing the public broadcaster today and continued the process of the authorities' hijacking of the public broadcaster. Last week, the ruling party made additional changes to the document, according to which the Advisory Board of Adjara Television is abolished and its competences are transferred to the Board of Trustees of the public broadcaster. The number of members of the Board of Trustees is increased from 9 to 11, and the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara is authorised to nominate three candidates instead of one.

The Media Advocacy Coalition strongly believes that while polarisation and disinformation are a challenge, the role of independent public service broadcasters in providing unbiased and diverse content to the public is of vital importance. The current policies and actions of the ruling team, on the contrary, are aimed at controlling private media and public broadcasters and using them for political purposes.

In light of the above, the Media Advocacy Coalition calls on the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, to exercise her constitutional right to veto the above-mentioned law and thereby support the principles of independent and free public broadcasting.

We also call on the ruling party not to override the veto and to direct its own efforts and policies towards creating a free, safe and pluralistic media environment, which is the constitutional and conventional obligation of the government.