Commission’s explanation related to broadcasters’ obligations in regard to the second tour of the Parliamentary elections

October 11, 2016 18:55

Based on a President’s decree “on Appointment of the Parliamentary Elections” pre-election campaign has been launched on June 8, 2016. Pre-election campaign was underway during the period of four months and has ended on the day of polling, on October 8, 2016.  

In accordance with Paragraph z) of Article 2 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Elections” – election campaign is a set of measures carried out by an electoral subject/candidate for electoral subject aimed at running in and winning elections. As for Paragraph 1 of Article 45 -  Election campaign shall begin as soon as a legal act calling elections is issued and published.

In accordance with Article 126 of the same law, If no MP of Georgia is elected in the first round of majoritarian elections, the CEC shall call a second round of elections along with summarizing the first round results. The second round of elections shall be held not later than the 14th day after the first round. The two candidates having the best results in the first round shall run in the second round of the election. If more than 2 candidates obtained the same results or several majoritarian candidates who were in second place coming after the one with the best results received an equal number of votes, all of the candidates shall run in the second round of elections.

As you may know, general rules of pre-election media coverage are established in accordance with Article 50 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Elections.” In particular, broadcast license holders, not later than from the 50th day before polling until the polling day, including the Public Broadcaster and Adjara TV and Radio of the Public Broadcaster shall meet the following conditions:

a) if airtime is allotted for pre-election campaigning and political advertising, publicly announce and weekly submit to the GNCC the following information: from and until what date and at what intervals the airtime is allotted, its duration and schedule of the allotted airtime during one day, the airtime fee, and service provided;

b) paid airtime allotted by any TV or radio broadcaster during one day may not exceed 15% of its total daily broadcasting time and none of electoral subjects shall be granted more than one-third of this time. The paid airtime fee shall be equal for all electoral subjects (both for qualified and unqualified subjects);

c) when broadcasting a political/pre-election advertisement, the screen corner shall display the inscription ‘paid political advertising’ or ‘free political advertising’. Such advertisements shall have be accompanied with the sign language translation which shall be arranged for by the electoral subject presenting the advertisement; d) during the period referred to herein, political advertising may not be broadcast at any other time, except the time interval allotted for these purposes.

In accordance with Paragraph 5 of Article 51 of the same law, during the election campaign in their respective coverage areas, the Public Broadcaster, Adjara TV and Radio of the Public Broadcaster, as well as any community broadcasting licensee not later than 50th  day before the elections shall allot 5 minutes of airtime in every hour for the placement of pre-election video free of charge and without discrimination with a condition that it will be equally apportioned among the subjects, provided that the time allotted to one electoral subject does not take up more than 90 seconds in three hours (electoral subject may divide allotted time into multiple parts). In accordance with Paragraph 6 of the same Article, during the general election campaign, a general national over-the-air broadcaster, not later than 50th day before the elections shall allot at least 7,5 minutes in every three hours for the placement of pre-election advertising free of charge and without discrimination for each qualified electoral subject, provided that the time allotted for each electoral subject during this period does not take up more than 90 seconds.

In accordance with the Organic Law of Georgia “on Election Code of Georgia” political/pre-election advertisement is an advertisement distributed by means of mass media of such content, which intends the promotion/hindering of electoral subject, where electoral subject is shown or his/her election sequence number and consists of signs of pre-election campaign or calls for referendum / plebiscite for or against the decision on an issue.

With a regard to an above-mentioned, the Commission believes, that broadcaster will have an obligation to allot airtime for the placement of pre-electoral free/paid advertising defined by the current law in relation to the appointment of second tour of elections after an issuance of a decree by CEC.

As for the placement of political/pre-election advertising in the broadcasting net during non-election period, the Commission believes, that in accordance with the current legislation, placement of political/pre-election advertising during non-electoral period, is prohibited. In particular, in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 66of the Georgian law “on Broadcasting” An administrative authority, a political party, an official and a public servant shall not finance a broadcaster, also shall not purchase its service and finance or co-finance, directly or indirectly.

Therefore, taking above-mentioned into the account, the Commission notes that in case pre-election campaign is not underway, in accordance with the current legislation of Georgia, the placement of political/pre-electoral advertisement by a broadcaster through its airtime, is limited.  

In addition, in order to ensure proper fulfillment of the obligations imposed upon the Commission by the current legislation (including the importance of 24/7 media monitoring continuance) we kindly ask you, please ensure the submission of weekly broadcasting airtime net to the Commission from October 8, 2016 up until the second tour of the polling day.