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Pre-Election Media Environment in Shida Kartli

26.09.2013

 
Lado Bichashvili, Shida Kartli

Two TV-Companies, one radio station, two newspapers and one news agency operate in Shida Kartli region. In addition to that, there are budget-funded periodicals in all four districts in the region, which mostly highlight projects/activities implemented by the local government and announcements about tenders in the districts. 

Representatives of independent media allege that oppression on journalists has increased. They still cope with serious financial problems; TV-companies complain about small advertising payment; newspapers have even more problems though despite that, during pre-election period all media sources get more active.

Nowadays, there is only one independent monthly newspaper in Gori – Khalkhis Gazeti [People’s newspaper]. Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Rezo Okruashvili said despite small funding, they manage to increase number of issues during election period.

“Currently, we issue one edition per month; we do not have any political advertisements and funding. At this stage, we do not meet interests of the so-called free-media’s clan. In October, 2013 we intend to increase the periodicity and as usually we will observe the elections too,” said Editor Rezo Okruashvili.

Website of the Information Center of Shida Kartli www.qartli.ge is the only news agency in the region, which intends to renew edition of the newspaper Kartlis Khma [Kartli Voice] from September. Editor of the Information Center Saba Tsitsikashvili said they have little resources but will effectively use it.

“We reported about misuse of administrative resources during Margvelashvili’s election campaign in Kaspi when village attorneys organized mobilization of people to meet the candidate. We also observe pre-election period and send monitoring reports to different organizations in the form of digest. Interagency Task Force for Fair Elections discussed one of our materials and several attorneys in Kaspi district might be fined with 2000 lari. We do not have political advertisements; we received phone-calls from clients, who wanted to order ads but in the end nobody sent political ads to us. Second stage of the Information Center of Shida Kartli is over and now we still expect donors to fund us,” Saba Tsitsikiashvili said.

Pre-election preparations have already started at TV-Radio Company Trialeti; they increased the scope of their broadcasting and joined cable companies working in Tbilisi and other regions. Director of the TV-Company said they impartially cover ongoing events in the regions. In their newscasts, they spend most time on the findings of the nongovernmental organizations’ monitoring during pre-election period and meetings of presidential candidates with electorate. 

“We do not have political advertisements nowadays. We cover campaigns of all presidential candidates equally in our newscasts; we will work in special regime because of upcoming elections. We will highlight the work of the Regional Election Commission before elections and on the Election Day; also we will report about the  results of monitoring carried out by nongovernmental organizations during pre-election period; also issues related with the misuse of administrative resource. In October we plan debates between presidential candidates, discuss their election programs and population will have chance to participate in the process both in the studio and by phone calls. As for the development of the TV-Radio Company, we intensively work in this direction. Nowadays, we broadcast via cable companies in Tbilisi and other regions too. We are attached to the Blackseasat satellites, networks of SilkTV, Global and Caucasus TV. We also broadcast online via myvideo.ge. We intend to broaden our coverage in order to reach every region at least via cable companies. We renewed our equipment and were the first among regional broadcasters to shift to HD quality. The quality of our broadcasting was improved; also, we are ready for the introduction of digital broadcasting system in Georgia. We are finalizing with the equipment of the Tbilisi studio. Our financial stability depends on the advertisements and due to broadened broadcasting coverage, we intend to raise advertisement fees too. We also prepare some new TV-projects, which will be submitted to different foundations,” director general of the TV-Company Trialeti Joni Nanetashvili said.

Situation about TV-Company DIA has significantly deteriorated after elections. Due to their financial problems, the studio moved back to Khashuri that resulted into reduction of personnel and for some time they stopped preparation of newscasts too. Currently, DIA’s news room has one camera crew and intends to hire interns during election period. Director of the TV-Company Maya Tatulashvili said all agreements they had signed before last year’s parliamentary elections were suspended and keep the television with the income of the cable company.

“Before parliamentary elections, Giorgi Kalatozishvili was director of the TV-Company and afterwards I replaced him on the position. I do not know what this TV-Company was doing before elections. More correctly, I do not bear responsibility for that. Now we work peacefully; due to our short financial abilities, we have only one journalist and a camera-man; for the election period we intend to recruit one intern. As for advertisements of political subjects, nobody will pay money to us for political ads though we are drafting a lawsuit on this issue together with the association and let’s see what will come of it. We broadcast in Khashuri and surrounding territory though we try to release news from the region,” Tatulashvili said.

It is the pre-election media environment in Shida Kartli; representatives of local printed and online media try to update population about ongoing events despite their financial problems.  
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