The Parliament will develop within next two weeks a draft law, which will make media ownership fully transparent, Davit Bakradze, the Georgian parliamentary chairman, said on October 26.
Lack of transparency of media ownership, in particular in respect of two largest broadcasters – Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV – has long been an issue of controversy in Georgia. The Georgian authorities’ have been so far reluctant to address the issue and PM Nika Gilauri rejected on October 7 that there were problems with transparency of media ownership in Georgia.
The Parliamentary Chairman said in live televised statement that the rules currently regulating media ownership in Georgia were in overall in line with the international standards, but added that more transparency was required.
“The society should have full and comprehensive information about media owners, who are behind [media organization] and how they are financed,” Davit Bakradze said.
“The initiative is part of our democratic reform package and it will be a step forward toward democracy development,” he added.
Bakradze said he was not ready to speak about the details as the draft was not yet elaborated, but added that offshore companies would either be banned from owning media organizations in Georgia, or such firms would be banned from withholding information about their owners and founders.
President Saakashvili said through his spokesperson on October 26, that he welcomed the initiative, which he described as part of “a new wave of democratic reforms” announced in 2008.
On October 27 a group of media and legal experts plan to present package of bills, which include eight drafts of legislative amendments aiming, among other things, at making media ownership transparent. Lasha Tugushi, an editor-in-chief of the Georgian daily Rezonansi, who is a member of this group, says that the bill also aims at improving access to public information.