Who Owns Georgia’s Media
Transparency International Georgia has conducted research aimed to reveal the ownership issues of some of the influential TV broadcasters in the country. The study mostly covers the period since 2014. The above-mentioned study has established the identities of owners of these broadcasters and their possible business ties and interests in a politicized and polarized media environment.
Based on the study, Transparency International Georgia has focused on studying the entrepreneurial registry, asset declarations, political endowments and other open data in the preparation of the report. We have studied the following major players on the Georgian television market: Rustavi 2 Holding (which incorporates Channel 3 and Channel 4 along with Rustavi 2), Imedi Holding (also includes Maestro TV and GDS), Iberia TV, TV Pirveli, Obiektivi, Palitra TV, R.B.G (Entertainment Channel 1) and Stereo Plus.
The study highlights the case of Rustavi 2, where the alleged attempt of the government to take the ownership away from the existing management through court has been identified. As for the case of TV Pirveli, the government was likely to coerce the existing owner to give up his ownership of TV Pirveli by means of creating problems to his other businesses. During conducting of this research it was revealed that often times the owners failed at separating broadcasters from the interests of their other businesses in order to maintain impartiality. Such practice comes in clear violation of the rights of journalists. There is an impression that some of these owners are using media to serve their personal and business purposes.
Unfortunately, Georgian TV broadcasters showed their inability to become financially sustainable and independent establishments. Accordingly, the problems arising in those businesses that are linked to TV broadcasters, end up being directly reflected on the financial stability of these media outlets. After switching to digital broadcasters and introducing somewhat lax legislative amendments, the number of television companies in Georgia has increased. Nevertheless, this trend failed to have a positive impact on the de-politicization of the media environment.
- The government should stop using various levers against critically-disposed media outlets and their owners in order to create so-called business and financial problems to them;
- Political parties, whom the law prohibits to own media outlets, should stop interfering in the activities of TV media with the purpose of achieving desired editorial policy;
- TV owners should clearly separate TV and other business activities so that not to instrumentalize the broadcaster and its journalists for carrying out narrow political or business interests;
- To ensure media pluralism and professional journalism, media owners and other authorized persons should promote journalists’ knowledge about ethical standards.