Financially and Content-Damaging Legislative Regulations for Broadcast Media and Their Alternatives
photo credit: EPA-EFE / Caroline Blumberg
After Russia's aggressive, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the integration of the so-called "trio" - Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova - into the European Union was accelerated. Shortly after the start of the war, the "trio" officially registered their desire for EU membership, received a questionnaire and moved to the stage of waiting for candidate status. Two of them - Ukraine and Moldova - received the candidate status. At the same time, Georgia was given only the recognition of the European perspective and 12 prerequisites that must be fulfilled to receive the candidate status. Freedom of the media was defined as one of the prerequisites. Regardless of whether or not Georgia will receive the candidate status in December 2023, the mentioned 12 prerequisites, including the media freedom part, still do not lose their importance; this is a long-term issue.
According to the constitution, Georgia declares integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures as a state goal. In this context, media freedom has become one of the prerequisites for the country's European integration. The state of Georgia saw the media as a necessary prerequisite for creating a democratic state back in 1921, and in the constitution of February 21, freedom of expression in print was reflected as a separate article. Accordingly, historically and considering the context of current events, the media plays a vital role in forming Georgia as a democratic and European country.
The first precedent of a change of government through elections in Georgia happened in 2012. This kind of democratic process strengthened positive expectations, and it can be said that after ten years, the country was on the threshold of integration into the European Union. However, over the past ten years, the improvement of the state of the media has been a challenging process. With different ratings, which can be used to observe the quality of media freedom, it is proven that during the first years of the mentioned period, Georgia progressed, then entered a phase of stagnation and finally began to decline.
The international organization "Reporters Without Borders" (RFS) publishes the Press Freedom Index annually. In the last ten years, Georgia earned the best score in 2018, and the worst was evaluated in 2022, when, compared to the previous year, it lost approximately 12 points and dropped 29 places in the ranking of countries at once. In the 2023 index, Georgia's situation improved slightly - it earned a total of 61.69 points, and compared to the previous year, its position in the ranking improved by 12 places.
Another international rating - "Information Resonance Barometer" (IREX) - studies media freedom. IREX compiles this ranking and evaluates the country's situation every year. Initially, it was published under the "Media Sustainability Index" name, then the methodology and name were changed. However, the scores were adjusted so that comparisons between years are still relevant. In 2012, after the change of government, Georgia made progress here as well, although it began to decline from 2015-2016, and now, even compared to 2012, the situation has worsened dramatically.
This document focuses on the legal regulations that have limited media freedom in various ways. In addition to the laws passed in the last ten years, the document also discusses those regulations introduced earlier; however, they were used to limit the media in the period we analyzed. At the same time, we propose a vision of how the processes should develop and what steps should be taken in the future to ensure the independence and freedom of the media at the legislative level.
See the attached file for the entire document.