The messenger logo

TV Companies statement regarding the acceptance of Georgian Dream lawsuit is 'unreasonable', Communications Commission says

By Liza Mchedlidze
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
The Communications Commission has responded to the Formula, Mtavari Arkhi and TV Pirveli's statement regarding the Commission's acceptance of Georgian Dream's lawsuit and they evaluate it as 'unreasonable'. According to them, they suspect that television companies are purposefully violating the law and further accuse the Communications Commission of restricting the media from "reacting according to the requirements of the law."

The Communications Commission claims that all its decisions are in full compliance with the law, therefore, in their own estimation, there is no argument that the Commission's decisions threaten the freedom of speech and expression of the media. The statement also mentions that the issue of the legality of advertising "has nothing to do with freedom of expression".

"According to the law, there are clear rules for placing broadcast advertisements on air, which broadcasters are well aware of. The representatives of the television companies involved in the dispute appeal that the controversial video clip belongs to social and not political advertising, the consideration of which is beyond the competence of the Communications Commission. It is the competence of the Communications Commission, therefore, the issue of broadcasting both social advertising and political advertising is for consideration by the Communications Commission.

Due to the fact that social and political advertising is within the supervisory area of the commission, there was no legal basis for declaring the complaint inadmissible regarding the controversial video. As for the review of the content of the video, according to the legislation, within 7 working days of receiving a complaint against the broadcaster, the commission appoints a preparatory session and makes a decision only to accept the complaint for consideration or reject the complaint. The broadcasters involved in the dispute should be well informed that according to the legislation, the discussion of the substance of the dispute - the evaluation of the content of the video clip and the decision of the issue of the propriety of placing it on the air is not done at the preparatory session of the Communications Commission. The Communications Commission determined in the format of the preparatory session that the question of the legality of placing advertisements by broadcasters was disputed.

Regarding the issue of media restrictions and suppression of free speech by sanctioning broadcasters, the Communications Commission writes that the issue of legality of advertising is clearly regulated by legislation and broadcasters should understand that it is their responsibility not to violate the law by broadcasting advertisements.

"When placing advertisements in compliance with the law, the Communications Commission will not have any reason to initiate proceedings. Therefore, according to the law, television stations are obliged not to place inappropriate commercials on the air and to comply with the requirements of the law, both when placing political and social advertisements.

"We emphasize here that since 2014, there has been no decision of the Communications Commission that limits media freedom, on the contrary, both the approach of the Commission and all decisions, as well as the existing legislation, confirm and are uniquely aimed at increasing media pluralism and the degree of freedom of expression in the country as much as possible. According to the legislation of Georgia, all content parts, except for advertising, are deregulated, therefore, the Communications Commission has made a number of decisions on the issue of both social and political advertising. Broadcasters are aware of the approach and decisions of the Communications Commission, therefore, there is a reasonable suspicion that specific television stations are purposefully violating the law, and subsequently, they accuse the Communications Commission of restricting the media by responding to the requirements of the law."

Three television companies, Formula, Mtavari Arkhi, and TV Pirveli, issued a joint statement regarding Georgian Dream's lawsuit against them. According to the statement, the Communications Regulatory Commission's acceptance of the lawsuit is an orchestrated punitive action against the channels.