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Stir around Imedi TV continues

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, September 2
Parliament Chairman Davit Usupashvili has stated that all TV stations must run their own policies independently. He said that debates on political issues were especially important in the pre-election year.

The Parliament Speaker made the statement in response to the announcement of Georgia’s one of the most influential TV channels Imedi TV that it closed public-political talk shows until 2016.

The Imedi TV journalist and the opposition stated that it was a political order as channels never suspend those programmes that enjoy high ratings.

"I’d love it if all TV stations ran their own policies independently and didn’t ask anyone’s permission for opening or closing any talk shows, receive recommendations or advice about employing or dismissing journalists and so on.

“Closure, opening, or any modification of political talk shows instantly acquires certain political overtones. I’d like to make this issue perfectly clear for anyone.

“Let’s talk about facts, provide arguments and continue living. It is especially important in the pre-election year that all TV channels increase time for debates on political issues, with the format and style of these defined by TV networks themselves,” said Usupashvili.

The Presidential Administration has already expressed concerns over the recent developments in the Georgian media.

The statement released by the President’s administration reads that "Politically active and informed community is a foundation of democracy.”

“Georgian society has always been distinguished by its political responsibility. This society has achieved the grace of free media and Georgian citizens are particularly sensitive to it,” the President said, noting that the strengthening of democracy was impossible without a free and competitive media.

“That is why we are worried about the questions surrounding the recent media processes, especially ahead of a new political season and the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The President, as a guarantor of democracy and the constitution in the country, is closely watching the ongoing processes in the media and will protect the constitutional freedom of media together with the society,” The President’s Press Service said.

According to non-governmental organization Transparency International – Georgia, closure of Imedi TV talk-shows will have a negative impact on media diversity.

According to the statement released by the organization, the TV Company’s leadership could not properly explain the reasons for the decision.

“It is vague what the TV programs’ change implies and what kind of programs will be shown starting with 2016. It is significant the leadership to explain why they made such a decision when only several weeks are left till the new TV season,” the NGO said.

The government says and the media analysts admit that under the current government the freedom of media is better ensured than by the previous state leadership.

It is also said that the Imedi TV administration plans a meeting over the cases shortly.

It would be welcomed if the channel administration provided detailed information over the issue as the topic has already caused a stir.