The Public Broadcaster – low ratings and increased funding
The Public Broadcaster started the TV season with partially renewed programming, with viewers being able to see new social-political, cultural and entertainment programs. The management of the channel determined the priorities of reorganization on the basis of public opinion polls as part of which 3,000 people were surveyed across Georgia. The channel also developed a long-term plan for the TV station’s development.
Changes were also made in the broadcaster’s management. Sergi Gvarjaladze, the host of the Komunikatori program, replaced Goga Chartolani in the position of the Deputy Director General for Broadcasting. The changes also touched the News Service – political scientist Giorgi Gvimradze was appointed the Head of the News Department, while journalist Giorgi Putkaradze took the position of the Head of the News Service on January 4, 2016.
The funding of the Public Broadcaster has been on the rise in recent years. In 2015, GEL 40.8 million was allocated for the Public Broadcaster from the state budget, while the funds the channel had received from sponsorship and product placement up to September 2015 reached about GEL 123,500.1
According to the Public Broadcaster’s report of 2014, the income the channel received from its economic activity amounted to GEL 4.1 million, which is the highest figure in the Public Broadcaster’s history. In the same year, the funds allocated for the Public Broadcaster from the state budget amounted to GEL 38 million, while the channel received an additional GEL 267,000 from the Reserve Fund for covering the event of May 26. Of this sum, the channel returned GEL 74,000 to the Fund.
The ratings of Channel 1 and Channel 2
In spite of the changes made and the improved financial situation, the 2015 rating of the Public Broadcaster deteriorated compared with the previous year. However, the rating of 2014 was also very low.2 TI Georgia has contacted the Public Broadcaster in connection with this issue. In a conversation with us, Tiko Berdzenishvili, Director of the Multimedia Department of the Public Broadcaster, explained the channel’s low ratings by several possible reasons: inaccuracy of the data collected by the ratings company, problems with coverage, and the channel’s content. According to her, the management had certain questions to the company that calculates the ratings; in addition, the Public Broadcaster’s coverage zone does not extend to some places, which may also have affected the ratings. Ms. Berdzenishvili explained that from 2016 the broadcaster had renewed its programs and made them more diverse. From 2016, the Public Broadcaster signed a contract with a new ratings company, though the management also has questions to this company, the Director of the Multimedia Department explained.
During 2014, the audience share (SHR%) of Channel 1 during daytime hours (09:00 – 18:00) fluctuated between 3% and 6%. During almost the entire year of 2015, this figure was even lower, and it dropped below 2% at the end of the year.
The evening programs of Channel 1 are not very popular either. In this case too, a particularly big decrease of the rating, which had already been low, took place after the start of the 2015 TV season. The highest rating in the past two years was observed in June 2014 when the Public Broadcaster was exclusively airing the world championship in football.
The main newscast of the channel, Moambe, reveals a similar trend. From the second half of 2015, the rating of the program dropped significantly, and at the end of the year, it halved compared with the same period of the previous year.
Channel 2 of the Public Broadcaster has an even lower rating. During the past two years, the channel’s rating has not been higher than 2%; accordingly, its impact on social and political life is minimal.
Against the background of the deteriorated ratings, the Public Broadcaster’s budget for 2016 has increased from GEL 40.8 million to GEL 44.1 million.
1 The Public Broadcaster has yet to release its full financial report for 2015, which is due to be submitted to the Parliament in May. TI Georgia received the financial information presented in the blog post from the Public Broadcaster, in the form of public information.
2 TI Georgia requested the ratings from the Public Broadcaster. Source: TV MR Georgia; processed by LEPL Public Broadcaster.
The blog post mistakenly indicated that political scientist Giorgi Gvimradze had been appointed to the position of the Head of the News Service and journalist Giorgi Putkaradze had taken the position of the Chief Producer of the News Service. The said mistakes have now been corrected.