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Saakashvili: My Gov’t Committed to Media Freedom
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Feb.'10 / 00:50

President Saakashvili said on February 17, that Georgian “media still lacks objectivity and professionalism.”

Speaking to an audience in London-based think-tank, Chatham House, Saakashvili said that his “government is committed to media freedom” and added that there were several TV channels in Georgia “hostile” to the authorities.

“There are several hostile channels on the air and they have satellite license to broadcast everywhere; [these are] very, very hostile channels,” he said.

By saying “hostile” he was apparently referring to Maestro and Kavkasia – two TV stations broadcasting in the capital Tbilisi.

“There are also other independent media channels,” Saakashvili continued, “there are 24 regional independent media channels.”

According to a report by Transparency International-Georgia about the broadcast media landscape, several TV stations in regions are owned by people who are “closely connected” to members of national or regional administrative bodies and high-ranking ruling party officials.

President Saakashvili also said that reforms were underway “to ensure and broaden political debates” and in this context he mentioned planned reorganization of the public broadcaster’s second channel to provide coverage of parliament proceedings and to allocate airtime to politicians’ statements and press conference.

Saakashvili welcomed cooperation between BBC World Service Trust and the Georgian public broadcaster. A BBC team is monitoring and advising the public broadcaster’s newsroom. Saakashvili said that he had recently met with this team “to hear what they have to say.”

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