The FINANCIAL — The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its regional organisation, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), called on the newly elected Georgian parliament to prioritise reform of the broadcast sector that has fallen into post election disarray.
“Since the 1st October parliamentary elections, journalists working for a series of broadcast companies have lost their jobs, had their programmes abruptly cancelled or whole teams of media staff have seen their salaries ceased. Meanwhile there is an ugly struggle for control of the media following the electoral results that have transformed the national political scene”, statement says.
"We are appalled that journalists and media staff have been the victims of the struggle for power and influence over Georgian media," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "The new authorities must act immediately to protect employee rights and radically overhaul of the entire broadcast scene."
Journalists Vakho Sanaia and Eka Khoperia had their programme abruptly cancelled at the Georgian Public Broadcaster. Staff at three TV stations, PIK, Real and Imedi have all had their salaries suspended as they cut, suspend or end broadcasting. The financial crisis hitting these channels is caused in part by uncertainty over the future of subsidies and advertising revenue, that had been misused by the previous government to buy government friendly coverage severely distorting the overall media scene.
The IFJ/EFJ backs the call of the Independent Association of Georgian Journalists, IFJ affiliate, to use the opportunity of the new political environment to
Reform the national broadcaster to ensure that it is fully independent of government and set up to serve the public interest
Introduce robust media regulations on transparency of ownership that also guarantees pluralism through limits on amount of media any one individual or company can own.
Reform the National Communications Commission to ensure that the allocation of broadcast licences are conducted free of political interference and based on transparent and accountable procedures
"The government must place journalists' rights, professional independence and decent working conditions, at the heart of the reform programme," said Arne König, EFJ President.
The IFJ/ EFJ additionally calls for the newly elected Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, to set the example by divesting himself and his family of his stake in TV 9, so that they may report free of conflicts of interest and threat of undue government interference.