President vetoed legislative package on Law on Broadcasting
President vetoed legislative package on Law on Broadcasting

The President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the legislative package of amendments proposed to be made into Law on Broadcasting, which was approved by Parliament through the third hearing.

President spoke about reasons of his decision at the press conference held today. Margvelashvili emphasized two remarks referring to  commercial advertisements and the amendment regarding procurement.

According to him, the issues of circulation of ads and procurement are not adequately outlined in the draft law.

“I hope that the Parliament will well realize the essence of our veto and make a decision on maintaining media pluralism and healthy competition, as well ensuring transparent and reasonable spending of state funds.

Georgian media market, which feeds private TV channels, is unstable and diminishing.  Several independent commercial channels compete in this market. I think that the decision to allow budget-funded broadcaster to enter this market, as one of the players, is problematic, as media diversity is essential for Georgian citizens, for a democratic state. Media could not fulfill this role without subsistence resources.

I completely agree with the idea that the current law on procurement creates a problem for the Public Broadcaster, as well as other agencies that buy intellectual property or are part of their activity. This law must be substantially modified and we must ensure compliance of the law with the EU regulations from 2019. However, unfortunately, what is offered by the current law is replacement not by the European law, but abolishment of the regulations that are designed to spend the money paid by our citizens more transparently. I  welcome moving to the European standards, but this is not described in the draft law,” –  the President said.

The draft-bill will be sent back to the parliament with the president’s motivated remarks.

In October of the last year, the Parliament approved the package of amendments proposed to be made into Law on Broadcasting with 85 votes through the third hearing. 6 MPs voted against.

The project specifies that Public Broadcaster will allot at least 25 percent of all products and not over-the-air broadcasting to programs produced by legal entities under private law.

According to amendments, the Public Broadcaster will be authorized to conduct a public opinion survey / auditory survey to ensure the fulfillment of the content obligations.

In addition, the draft law enables broadcaster to use additional radio broadcasting frequencies to increase radio broadcasting and penetration of radio broadcasting in regions of Georgia.

The project additionally focuses on the inadmissibility of infringement of editorial, management and financial independence of Broadcaster from the administrative agencies.

Amendments apply to procurement as well. According to the existing regulations, the Public broadcaster carries out all types of purchases in accordance with the law on state procurement; according to the initiated amendments, the regulations should not apply to the purchasing of products such as programs, feature and documentary films.

According to project, the Public Broadcaster is authorized to apply the revenues defined by the Georgian legislation, including the assignments received from the state budget to encourage start-up enterprises, TV-Radio and online products, innovative development, and promote environmental development in the field of broadcasting.

The project of amendments envisages separation of authorities and duties of General Director of Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) and Board of Trustees.

Changes also refer to commercial advertising and sponsorship of Public Broadcaster. According to the initiative, sponsorship of entertainment programs and TV series are allowed.

In addition, Commercial advertisements in sports programmes, international festivals and contests, at the beginning, during a natural break or at the end of a competition programme, shall not exceed 60 minutes (instead of 30) within a 24-hour period, and 12 minutes (20%) per hour (instead of 6 minutes per hour).

According to project, the Ajara TV and Radio of the Public Broadcaster, and a Public Broadcaster shall allot at least 90 seconds per 3 hours (instead of 60 seconds per hour) free of charge and without discrimination to a social advertisement submitted for placement, at least 10 seconds of which the Public Broadcaster shall allot to a social advertisement related to the integration of Georgia into NATO and the European Union, provided that an appropriate advertisement video has been submitted.