Media Advocacy Coalition believes that part of
the amendments to the Georgian Law on
Broadcasting contain risks of restricting freedom of expression and is likely to deteriorate the media
environment in Georgia.
On September 7, 2022, the MPs representing the
ruling party, Georgian Dream, registered the draft Law on Broadcasting in
connection with the amendments to the law of Georgia, which became known to the
wider public on September 13. It should be noted that the committee reviews of
the voluminous and content-varied draft law is scheduled for September 19 of
the same year.
As the basis of these changes, the authors of the bill name bringing the
Georgian legislation into compliance with EU
Directive on Audio-Visual Media Services.
Media Advocacy Coalition considers it important
to fulfill the obligation defined by the
EU Association Agreement. However, at the same time, the Coalition believes it is essential that implementation of the EU legislation
aiming at improving the general media environment
in the country.
The registered bill provides, among other
things, for the immediate enforcement of
the commission's legal acts, regardless of whether they have been challenged in court.
The coalition believes that given the practice
of sanctioning critical media outlets by
the Communications Commission, the risk of harm caused by the immediate
enforcement of politically biased decisions against critical media, might increase significantly.
It is noteworthy that there is no notice of the
requirement in the EU Directive.
Moreover, the Venice Commission, in its conclusive statement published on March 22, 2021 regarding the Amendments
to the Law of Georgia on Electronic
Communications indicated that the judicial appeal of the act of appointment of a temporary administrator should
lead to an automatic suspension of the
validity of this act, and after that the court should consider whether it is necessary to immediately
implement or suspend the
decision at hand. The conclusive statement shows
that the Venice Commission had taken the
general situation as well as the context of justice in the state into careful consideration.
Coalition considers the introduction of a right
of reply as well as the regulation of
hate speech and terrorism-inciting broadcasting and advertising as highly problematic. Both points refer to the transfer
of issues included in content
self-regulation to that of general regulation.
The coalition maintains that the commission's
intervention in the content creates risks
of limiting the freedom of expression and believes that the Parliament should adopt the draft law notwithstanding the
issues related to content regulation. A
working group should be assembled to discuss effective regulatory mechanisms
that will not endanger the freedom of
The coalition calls on the Parliament to follow
the recommendations of the European Union
and to make the overall process inclusive.