GPB’s Chairman should report to Parliament, explain how to resolve Public Broadcaster’s ongoing crisis
All current 9 members of the Board of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) today voted to dismiss Giorgi Baratashvili, the director general. The Board should thoroughly explain to the public how Baratashvili has violated his responsibilities, as the Board alleges, and why, less than two months ahead of the presidential elections, they saw the immediate need to release him from his duties. Baratashvili had been fired by the Board in March, but was reinstated to his position in April after a court found that he was dismissed illegally.
When launching Baratashvili’s impeachment last week, the Board argued that the top management had not provided satisfactory responses on questions about the station’s debts, budgeting and its programming priorities.
In order to ensure a transparent and orderly process moving forward, the public should have more information about the process took place in the GPB. We recommend the Parliament of Georgia to invite the Chairman of the Board in the coming days, to facilitate a broad discussion and to request a report on the situation at the Public Broadcaster and on how the Board plans to move the GPB out of the current crisis.
The Board should take measures to ensure that the GPB can fulfill its mission in the coming weeks and provide full coverage of the Presidential elections and successfully implement a planned reform of its programming.
The Board’s Chairman, Emzar Goguadze, today said that an employee of the Ministry of Interior, who has apparently also worked at the GPB, has put pressure on him and offered him rewards if he chose not to vote for the dismissal of Baratashvili. The authorities should investigate this allegation. Article 18 of the Law on Broadcasting explicitly prohibits “any kind of influence or intervention in the editorial, managerial or financial independence of the public service broadcaster on behalf of administrative authorities”.
TI Georgia will continue to follow the events around the GPB, as we believe that a properly functioning public broadcaster is of key importance for the country’s democratic development, especially in the run-up to elections. We believe that the GPB should be an independent player and serve the interest of the public, not those of any political actors.