Saturday, February 09, 2013

Georgia accepts EBU offer of advice on media law and digitalization

Ingrid Deltenre with David Usupashvili, Chairman of Georgia's Parliament
Kutaisi, Georgia

The chairman of Georgia's parliament has accepted an offer of assistance and advice from the EBU on media law and digitalization.

David Usupashvili, chairman of the Georgian Parliament and of the Republican Party of Georgia, received EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre at Georgia's new parliament building in the country's second city of Kutaisi.

The Republican Party is part of the Georgian Dream coalition which won parliamentary elections last October under the leadership of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, now prime minister.

Mr Usupashvili said the new Georgian government believes firmly that public broadcasting is a key to free media in Georgia. "It can, and must set the standards," he said, adding that this would improve the quality of private media in the country.

Ms Deltenre was accompanied by the chairman and top management of Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB); the EBU's Member in Georgia; former EBU Vice-President Boris Bergant and David Lewis, the EBU's Head of Member Relations. Mr Bergant led a team of consultants which helped draw up a 2011-2015 strategic plan for GPB through the EBU's Partnership Programme.

A coalition of NGOs has submitted to Parliament a package of amendments to Georgia's media law, including a proposal to reform the nomination procedure for GPB's governing board and to reduce its size to nine from 15 members.

Ms Deltenre said the EBU's legal experts would be happy to review the legal amendments to ensure they reflected best European practice, adding that the Union could also offer expertise on how the country should address the complex process of digitalization.

In an expression of appreciation, Mr Usupahvili told Ms Deltenre, "we will take your recommendations and advice very seriously."

GPB recently opened a new studio overlooking the parliament, itself only a few months old.

The Parliament was commissioned by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the United National Movement defeated in the October election. However Mr Ivanishvili has announced his intention to return the parliament to Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, and GPB will soon dismantle its new studio and take all its equipment back to GPB headquarters.

Mr Saakashvili, who remains head of state until presidential elections in the autumn, said in Strasbourg last month that the new Georgian government had pushed GPB director general Giorgi Chanturia to resign in December. Mr Usupashvili denied the new government is exercising any pressure on GPB.

(Source : EBU)

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