Government reconsiders "Must Carry" proposal
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, June 25
The Must Carry policy, which aims to increase the publics' access to information across the board, was initially rejected by the ruling government. In their rejection, they cited the high likelihood that the legislation could become entangled in private sector issues.
However, as announced by Parliament Chair Davit Bakradze on June 22, the government has reconsidered their original out-right rejection of the proposal and has decided to discuss a new initiative that would oblige all cable TV operators to broadcast all available channels and content during the election campaign.
Bakradze emphasized that this decision was made with the publics' interest in mind, explaining that Georgian civil society has a right to access a diverse range of information in order to make an informed decision during the elections.
“Our aim is [to provide] all Georgians [the opportunity] to access a lot of information. We will discuss the initiative in the following week. The government will compel all cable companies and TV channels to meet this agreement," Bakradze said
The movement It Affects You welcomed the decision and stated that such a positive attitude on behalf of the government would help create a better election environment in the county. "[Having a good election environment] is a pre-condition for making informed choices," said several NGO and civil society representatives united in the public movement.
A brief comment concerning the issue has been made by US Ambassador to Georgia John Bass, who has mentioned that any parliamentary initiative which would enable society to be more informed is a "constructive and positive step."
The opposition however, does not believe in the "good will" of the ruling party and attributes the government's sudden change of heart to the mounting international pressure.
"It seems that Davit Bakradze is becoming the West’s new favorite person in National Movement," Georgian Dream majoritarian candidate, Eliso Chapidze told The Messenger and added that it is possible that Davit Bakradze will run for the presidential post. "However, the Georgian Dream will have a more powerful candidate." Chapidze also mentioned that the international community is encouraging Saakashvili to leave his presidential post peacefully. "The West does not want Saakashvili’s image to be fully annihilated, and we do not want this either," Chapidze said. He also mentioned that Saakashvili would most likely be offered a post in an international organization or giving lectures abroad after his term expires next year. "There had been talks on suggesting the UN General Secretary post to him. However, his tragedy is that he does not want to leave politics– but people do not want to see him any more,” Chapidze, said.
Analyst Demur Giorkhelidze told The Messenger that the decision was imposed through pressure from those having influence on the authorities (international actors). "Such force does not exist within the state, thus it is clear that I mean international pressure," the analyst said, also mentioning that only a fool would believe that the authorities avoided interference in the affairs of the private sector and the statement made by the government earlier was just a formality.