A senior ruling party lawmaker said on December 3, that instead of only limiting, as envisaged initially, an outright ban on ownership of broadcasters by offshore-registered firms would be introduced.
The draft of amendments to the law on broadcasting, proposed by the ruling party, envisaged limiting of ownership of a broadcaster by offshore-registered firms to maximum of 10% of shares.
“We should not leave any question marks with respect to transparency of media ownership; hence, the committee [on legal affairs] will write in its conclusion that all those threshold related to ownership of shares by offshore companies should be removed [from the draft],” a senior ruling party lawmaker, Pavle Kublashvili, said on December 3.
“Not a single percent of share can belong to an entity registered in offshore,” he added.
MP Kublashvili, who chairs the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, made the remarks after two-hour long committee hearing during which the ruling party MPs were pressed by the parliamentary minority lawmakers, as well as by a group of media and legal experts to introduce an outright ban on offshore ownership of the broadcast media.
Another aspect of criticism of the draft is related to its failure to address financial transparency of broadcasters. In this respect, the ruling party lawmakers said, the draft would include a provision which would stipulate the Georgian National Communications Commission to post on its website not only information about ownership of broadcasters, but conclusions of financial audit of broadcasters. But as critics say those conclusions would fail to give a conclusive picture of broadcasters’ finances and additional measure would be required in this regard. The ruling party lawmakers said that discussion on the matter would continue during the second reading of the draft.
It was also decided by the parliamentary committee on legal affairs to address the issue of Adjara TV – the station, which is run by the local government of Adjara Autonomous Republic; the draft should put status of Adjara TV in line with the existing law on broadcasting, which bans governmental bodies to own broadcasters.