Fifth Mid-term Report of Georgia’s Parliamentary Pre-electoral Media Monitoring of October 8, 2016 2016, (23.09.2016 – 08.10.2016)

October 20, 2016 11:34

On June 8, 2016, GNCC has launched monitoring of pre-electoral period of the Georgian Parliamentary Elections of October 8, 2016, and has been monitoring 49 channels 24/7 during the period of four months.

All general broadcasters fell under the subject of monitoring, including Public Broadcaster and the Public Broadcaster of Adjara. Subjects of Commission’s observations during the monitoring process are:

a) Pre-election advertising;

b) Pre-election debates;

c) News and social-political programs;

d) Pre-election agitation.

Information about direct and indirect airtime allocated specifically for election subjects during news programs has been added to an above-mentioned report. Within the scope of direct time allocation, are analyzed such instances, when election subject/candidate directly speaks/participates in the program, as for an indirect time allocation, the time devoted by a broadcaster speaking of election subjects/candidates and their supporters is being analyzed. In the lengthy document of the third media monitoring report, direct time allocated for a political subject is indicated in blue, as for the indirect – in a red color.

The fifth mid-term report of pre-electoral process covers the period from September 9, 2016, up until September 22, 2016. Following violations have been detected as a result of the monitoring:

– The Commission has drawn a protocol of administrative offenses on TV Company “Rustavi 2.”

On September 26, 2016, an election subject “David Tarkhan-Mouravi, Irma Inasvili United Opposition of Alliance of Patriots of Georgia” has submitted a claim to the GNCC against TV Company “Rustavi2.”

The subject of dispute was an issue regarding cancellation of pre-electoral free political advertisement of “David Tarkhan-Mouravi, Irma Inasvili United Opposition of Alliance of Patriots of Georgia”  from the broadcasting net of TV Company “Rustavi 2” on September 24, 2016. 

In accordance with the public statement of “Rustavi 2”, according to the company’s assessment, video ad was of a xenophobic content, which was the reason of its cancellation. TV Company has replaced disputed video advertisement with another ad submitted by the same election subject.

An election subject believed, that “Rustavi2” had no authority to cancel from its airtime, nor assess pre-election political advertisement, because in accordance with the Paragraph 6 of Article 51 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Elections” general national Free-to-Air broadcaster is obligated no later than on the 50th day before polling, allocate through its airtime at least 7.5 minutes every three hours for the placement of free pre-election advertising equally and without any discrimination, on a condition, that allocated advertising airtime during this period shall not exceed 90 seconds for per electoral subject (election subject may divide this time into multiple parts). In accordance with the Paragraph 3 of Article 63 of the Georgian Law “on broadcasting” the advertiser is responsible for the content of pre-election political advertising.

An election subject “David Tarkhan-Mouravi, Irma Inasvili United Opposition of Alliance of Patriots of Georgia” was requesting from GNCC to study issues and the relevant respond on them. The requests were following: 1. to assign  TV Company “Rustavi 2” the airtime recovery  of the advertisement of “David Tarkhan-Mouravi, Irma Inasvili United Opposition of Alliance of Patriots of Georgia” 2.To compensate an election subject with free airtime defined by the Georgian legislation.3.To draw a protocol of administrative offenses against TV Company “Rustavi 2” for the violation of the rules of the placement of political/pre-electoral advertising.  However, during the review process, only the request to draw a protocol of administrative offenses has remained in force.

After an actual review of an issue with the participation of interested parties, GNCC has determined, that TV Company “Rustavi 2” has replaced the ad of “David Tarkhan-Mouravi, Irma Inasvili United Opposition of Alliance of Patriots of Georgia” without election subject’s agreement and therefore, has violated obligations defined by Paragraph 6 of Article 51 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Elections.” According to the Commission’s decision, protocol of administrative offenses has been drawn on “Rustavi 2” and later transferred to the City Court (Tbilisi) for the further dispute resolution.

– Number of broadcasters have been outlined that haven’t been placing news and/or social/political themed programs through their broadcasting nets. (International Information Agency Evrazia Ltd, “Saperavi TV” Ltd, “TV Company Tbilisi” Ltd, “TV-Radio Company TV 24 Ltd, TV-Company 1st Stereo Ltd, NNLE “ Media Center for open Abkhazia, NNLE “"Journalists and Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights," Tbilifilm-Studio” Ltd and “Sigulda” Ltd).

In accordance with Sub-paragraph f) of Article 2 of the Georgian law “on Broadcasting” General broadcasting is the broadcasting of programs with at least two themes, including news and social-political themes.

Administrative proceedings are in progress at the Commission against above-mentioned companies for the purpose to impose administrative responsibilities

–        TV Company “Rustavi 2” has published results of the public opinion poll survey with violations.

During the process of public administrative proceedings, the fact of violation of the rules defined by law in relation to the publication of  election public opinion poll results carried out by GFK Customs Research LLC was detected during the news program of “Rustavi 2” -“Kurieri” (at 9 pm).  In particular, the company has violated sub-paragraphs v.z) v.t) v.e and v.l of Paragraph 11 of Article 51 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Elections.” Protocol of administrative offenses has been drawn against the company and has been transferred to the Tbilisi city court for the further dispute resolution. 

 

– The Commission has issued a written warning on NNLE “Education Civic Fund” – brand name “Tabula” for the failure to submit information to GNCC during pre-election period.           

GNCC has issued a written warning on NNLE “Education Civic Fund” – brand name “Tabula” for the failure to submit information during pre-election period.

In accordance with Paragraph I of Article 50 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Elections” also, in accordance with Annex 1  of “participation of media in pre-electoral process and rules of its application” a broadcast license holder, an authorized over-the-air broadcaster, and the Public Broadcaster and Adjara TV and Radio of the Public Broadcaster shall, not later than from the 50th day before polling until the polling day, fulfill 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;

The Commission has sent out letters on May 25, 2016, (04/1542-16; 25.05.2016), to all authorized general broadcasters, including TV Company “Tabula” for the purpose to explain above-mentioned obligations. They have been also informed that based on President’s decree “on Appointment of the Parliamentary Elections” the pre-election campaign was to be launched on June 8, 2016. 

On August 11, 2016, TV Company “Tabula” has presented to the Commission written information in regard to the tariffs for the placement of paid/free political advertising, however, failed to submit weekly information in relation to the allocation of airtime and placement of pre-election agitation and pre-election/political advertisement.

The Commission has made a decision to issue a written warning on “Tabula” after the actual hearing public session of an issue.

– The Commission has drawn a protocol of administrative offenses on 5 information agencies.

GNCC has drawn a protocol of administrative offenses related to the violations of the rules of publication of public opinion polls on 5 information agencies and has transferred the documents to the City Court (Tbilisi) for the further dispute resolution.  

It concerns the publication of public opinion poll results related to elections that has been carried out by the American sociological company Wilson Perkins Allen Research (WPA) on September 23 of the current year.

These information agencies are:

 

In accordance with Article 82 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Election Code of Georgia” The promulgation of the results of the public opinion poll, conducted in relation to the elections, within the term defined by law without the required information, or violation of other rules related to its promulgation, shall be fined in the amount of 1500 GEL.

– The weekly information is not being presented to the Commission from the number of newspapers that are financed from the State Budget of Georgia. 

 In accordance with sub-paragraph 2 of Paragraph 50 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Election Code of Georgia” From the moment of announcement of elections until the sum up of election results, newspapers, funded by central or local budgets, fall under media monitoring. With a regard to above-mentioned, GNCC has requested information about newspapers financed by local or central budgets from the Ministry of Finance of Georgia, the municipal representatives and executive bodies and Autonomous Republics of Abkhazia and Adjara. As a result of processing of the data obtained, 30  newspapers fell under the pre-electoral media monitoring during the Parliamentary Elections of Georgia of October 8, 2016. (Information about newspapers is available at the Commission’s web-site).

 

The request to ensure monitoring during pre-election period has been sent to all newspapers in accordance with requirements of Annex №2 to submit information of the Commission’s resolution №9 of August 15, 2016, of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Election Code” and “on participation of media in pre-electoral process and rules of its application” however, 7 newspapers, despite the fact that they have received Commission’s letter, still, do not present the information.

The noted newspapers are: Municipality of Akhalkalaki – newspaper “Regional Tribune”; Municipality of Akhalkalaki – newspaper “TvitMmartveloba”; Municipality of Tkibuli – newspaper “Tkibuli”; Municipality of Lentekhi – newspaper ”Svaneti”; Municipality of Gori – newspaper “Goris Matsne”; Municipality of Vani – newspaper “Saerto Sitkva”; Municipality of Tsalenjikha – newspaper “Egrisis Matsne.”

For the purpose of fulfillment of the obligations imposed upon the Commission by current legislation, the Commission attempted test purchases by the means of private companies, however, press companies on the market have no information in regard to the noted newspapers in their lists, that is to why the Commission once again addressed municipalities and has asked to present the newspapers. 

The newspapers that present pre-election information: Municipality of Kaspi – newspaper “Akhali Gantiadi”; Municipality of DedoplisTskaro – newspaper” Shiraqi”; Municipality of Terjola – newspaper “Terjola’; Municipality of Bagdadi – newspaper “Chemi Gazeti”; Municipality of Tianeti – newspaper “Tianetis Momavali”; Municipality of Ambrolauri – newspaper “ Ambrolauris Moambe’’; Municipality of Tskaltubo – newspaper “Akhali Tskaltubo”; Municipality of Samtredia – newspaper “ Samtrediis Matsne” Municipality of Kvareli – newspaper “Kvareli”; Municipality of Bolnisi - newspaper “Bolnisi”; Municipality of Mtskheta – newspaper “Mtskheta”; Municipality of Senaki – newspaper “Kolkheti”; Municipality of Akhmeta – newspaper “Bakhtrioni”; Municipality of Khashuri – newspaper “Khashuris Moambe”; Autonomous Republic of Adjara – “Newspaper Ajara and Adjara” Ltd; Municipality of Qareli- newspaper –“ Qarelis Moambe”; Municipality of Abasha – newspaper “Abashis Matsne”; Municipality of Ninotsminda” – newspaper “Arshulsi”; Municipality of Signagi – newspaper “Signagi”; Municipality of Oni – newspaper “Oni”; Municipality of Gurjaani – newspaper “Gurjaanis Municipalitetis Matsne”; Municipality of Kharagauli – NNLE “ Municipal Center of Citizen’s Prticipation and Awareness”; Municipality of Khobi – newspaper “Khobis Moambe.” 

– GNCC has drawn a protocol of administrative offenses on a newspaper “Khashuris Moambe.”

GNCC has drawn a protocol of administrative offenses on a newspaper “Khashuris Moambe” due to the violation of rules of pre-election agitation and advertisement and has transferred it to the city court (Khashuri) for the further dispute resolution. The court made a decision to issue a written warning upon the newspaper.  

An agitation letter published in the newspaper “Khasuris Moambe” in the month of August with a headline - “No Nationalist in the Parliament” had no indication whether it was paid or free advertising.

In accordance with the resolution №9 of GNCC of August 15, 2016, of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Election Code” and “on participation of media in pre-electoral process and rules of its application,” while publishing an agitation letter, before the headline of the letter and in the corner of an advertisement, there must be an inscription "paid political advertising" or "free political advertising."

Recommendations:

Non-political programs are placed in the airtime of “Rustavi2” such as “Vano’s Show” and “Nanuka Zhorzholiani’s Show,” during the reporting period,  these programs have had gusts -Paata Burchuladze ( State for People), Shalva Natelashvili (Labour Party) and David Usupashvili (The Republicans).

The Commission believes, that in order to ensure just, impartial and balanced coverage of the pre-electoral campaign, it is important, that a broadcaster, during the coverage of any electoral subject, stresses its attention on those guidelines and recommendations which are defined by the Commission’s approved resolution N2 of March 12, 20019, “On Code of Conduct for Broadcasters” and take into consideration that participation of a candidate or a member of the party in a program which has no direct connection to the politics is possible only in such cases if negotiations about participating in the program have taken place before electoral period. A candidate should not be able to express his/her political opinions or advertise his/her candidacy in any other way;

Other activities carried out by the Commission related to pre-electoral period:

– An administrative proceeding launched towards “Rustavi 2” due to the failure to present information is still in progress.

 

An investigation launched based on a letter submitted by the journalist Shalva Ramishvili putting under suspicion the legitimacy of public opinion poll results commissioned by TV Company “Rustavi2” that was carried out by GFK Customs Research LLC, is still in progress at GNCC.

 

In order to timely determine compliance of the rules related to the publication of public opinion poll results as defined in accordance with Paragraph 51 of the Organic Law of Georgia “on Elections” and based on a high public interest regarding an above-mentioned issue, the Commission has addressed “Rustavi 2,” GFK Customs Research LLC and journalist Shalva Ramishvili for an additional information and gave a deadline to submit documents before October 5, 2016.  TV Company “Rustavi2” has presented information related to the research carried out by 

GFK Customs Research LLC within the frame of the deadline, however, in Commission’s opinion, it turned out to be incomplete and has launched public administrative proceeding against “Rustavi2.”

 During the session held on October 6 of the current year, the Commission has requested additional information from the company. “Rustavi 2” has requested additional time in order to present the information. The review of an issue has been renewed on October 7, although, if the information presented by the company was complete or was in compliance with sub-paragraphs a) b) c) d) and e) of Paragraph 11 of Article 51 with the Organic Law of Georgia, couldn’t be reached, due to which, the review of an issue has been postponed once again.

– The Commission has reviewed a claim submitted by the “United National Movement” against TV Companies “Studio Maestro” Ltd, “TV Imedi” Ltd, “GDS” Ltd and “Rustavi2” Ltd.

GNCC, based on a claim submitted by the political party “United National Movement” has examined an ad placed through the broadcasting nets of TV Companies   “Studio Maestro” Ltd, “TV Imedi” Ltd, “GDS” Ltd and “Rustavi2” Ltd which was related to the recovery of two-way street of A. Pushkin’s street in Tbilisi.

The author organizations of the statement have considered, that an ad had signs of pre-election political advertising and represented election campaign of infrastructural projects of the political union “Georgian Dream” financed from the state budget, which is prohibited. The political union  has requested GNCC to study and determine the status of an above-mentioned ad.

After examining an issue, the Commission has determined that an ad noted  placed through the broadcasting nets of TV Companies - “Studio Maestro” Ltd, “TV Imedi” Ltd, “GDS” Ltd and “Rustavi2” Ltd was commissioned by the City Hall of Tbilisi placed with a status of paid advertising by means of advertising companies. 

The public hearing session of an issue was presented by the representatives of all fout TV Companies. According to their statements, video ad commissioned by the City Hall that has been through their broadcasting nets was in compliance with the Georgian law “on Broadcasting.” In accordance with the law, an administrative body is authorized to purchase broadcasting services for the purpose to inform public regarding significant events.

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.

In the video ad, public is being informed about the recovery of two-way street of A. Pushkin’s street in Tbilisi. No electoral subject, nor his/her election sequence number is being shown in the video, therefore, no identification of any electoral subject has been carried out, neither a display of any political party symbol.

In accordance with the Georgian law “on Broadcasting” an administrative body has an authority to purchase broadcasters services for the placement of a social ad within a scope of a length of time beyond the minimum level time frame defined by Article 65 of the same law for the purposes of placement of social ad/distribution of information of public importance and only in such instances, if it is defined aside by the separate article of its budget. In case, if the administrative authority is purchasing organization, the procurement shall be carried out in accordance with rules established by the Georgian law “on Government Procurement.”

According to the GNCC’s assessment, an above mentioned video ad is in compliance with the requirements set forth in accordance with Paragraph 2 of Article 66of the Georgian law “on Broadcasting.”  

–The Commission has reviewed a claim submitted against “Broadcasting Company Rustavi 2” by the “Georgian Dream” – for Democratic Georgia. 

At the program “Archevani” aired on September 19, 2016, during the speeches of the MP’s of the region of Samegrelo of the political union “Georgian Dream” – for Democratic Georgia, live streaming of an interactive was in action where by means of phone calls, the citizens were able to state their positions – which political parties’ arguments did they share. According to the statement, during the live transmission of the program, majority supported “Georgian Dream” representatives, during which, an interactive was suspiciously shut down and an anchor has explained that technical interference had taken place. The claimant does not agree and has addressed the Commission to study an issue.  

The Commission has discussed an issue, and in accordance with Article 52 of the Georgian law “on Broadcasting” has made a decision that a claim submitted by the political union “Georgian Dream” – for Democratic Georgia is a subject to be discussed within the scope of the broadcaster’s self-regulatory mechanism.  In accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Georgian law “on Broadcasting” a broadcaster shall establish, on the basis of the Code of Conduct, an effective mechanism of self-regulation for internal review of and timely and justified response to complaints; In accordance with Paragraph I of Article 591 of the Georgian law “on Broadcasting” Responding to violations of the norms stipulated in Articles 52, 54, 56 and 59 of this Law, as well as ethical norms and professional standards set forth by the Code of Conduct is permitted only within the self-regulation mechanism defined by Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of this Law.  

 


[1] Within the scope of the study, it has been revealed, that newspaper of the Municipality of Kutaisi - “Qimerioni” covers only cultural news.

 

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