TI Georgia calls on GPB to focus on its mission and ensure protection of staff from political pressure
The Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) has recently cancelled the programs Vakho Sanaia’s Report and European Choice, two important formats for debate and discussion on public television. Anchor and journalist Sanaia, who ahead of the elections had publicly criticised the GPB’s management for not providing immediate coverage of the prison torture videos, and his staff were fired on October 9, according to a report by media.ge.
Transparency International Georgia believes that all political actors should refrain from abusing the GPB for their political goals. The GPB and its staff need to be able to focus on their mission, which is to serve the Georgian public, rather than any political forces.
The GPB, which in the past has been subject of political interference, should provide independent news and information, as well as formats for discussions of current affairs and investigative reporting, also and especially in times of political change. It is the responsibility of the GPB’s management and the Board to ensure that the broadcaster is focused on its mission and to protect the independence of its reporters and editorial staff.
The GPB has released video footage of the conversation between the management and the laid off employees. We believe it is important for the GPB’s management to discuss and justify key editorial decisions that could be perceived as politically motivated by the public.
Recent developments at the GPB also highlight the need for an improvement of working conditions for staff. Most importantly, editorial staff should be provided with longer contracts, allowing them to work more independently without fear of being let go.
The program European Choice has been produced by the GPB in cooperation with Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF) and funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). TI Georgia is also a recipient of Sida funding; a TI Georgia employee working on media issues is in a relationship with an employee of EPF.