Must Carry should not be ignored in dispute between Palitra TV and MagtiCom
For more than a year, MagtiCom has been refusing to include Palitra TV in the MagtiSat satellite TV broadcaster’s consumer package. A series of unsuccessful negotiations held between the parties has not brought any resolution. The dispute between has been reviewed by the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) as well as Tbilisi City Court.
Palitra TV is requesting that it be included in MagtiSat’s consumer package pursuant to paragraph 1 of Article 40 (1) of the Georgian Law on Broadcasting. This clause establishes the ‘Must Carry/Must Offer’ regulation mandating entities authorized for broadcast transit (cable companies) to include public or private general broadcast license holders in their consumer packages.
The first provisional Must Carry regulations appeared in Georgian Legislation in 2012 as a result of a vigorous civil society advocacy within This Affects You campaign. The campaign aimed to ensure the widest possible access of viewers to content created by private channels who broadcast news and political programs. This was a significant achievement by civil society, given that discriminatory policies and political stances of cable operators left a number of media outlets outside their grid. ‘Must Carry/Must Offer’ regulations became permanent under 2013 amendments to the Law on Broadcasting.
It is regrettable that MagtiCom is not including Palitra TV in its grid. According to Palitra TV, other broadcasters transmitting signals in a similar format do not experience any delays from the operator in including them in its consumer package. Although the legislation cannot provide for every single possibility, it is important that the original objectives underlying the adoption of Must Carry/Offer Regulations be protected. Therefore, Transparency International Georgia calls on MagtiCom to take heed of the viewers’ demand to the fullest extent and include Palitra TV in its consumer package. This will only contribute to strengthening the pluralistic environment in the country.