Political TV advertisement rates on two nationwide broadcasters, Rustavi 2 and Imedi, ahead of the October 1 parliamentary elections are much lower at present than during the previous elections.
Prices for a minute-long political ad on Rustavi 2 TV are ranging from minimum of GEL 660 in its morning news program to maximum GEL 6,250 in its late-night comedy TV series, followed by GEL 5,760 in another comedy series and GEL 5,430 in its main news bulletin Kurieri (Courier) at 9pm.
The highest valued ad slot on Imedi TV costs GEL 5,430 per minute in its main news bulletin at 8pm, followed by GEL 4,940 in its comedy series. The cheapest ad slot on Imedi TV costs GEL 990.
Political ad price lists, which the television stations are required to post online, cover the period between August 13 and August 19 and may potentially change in following weeks, but for now the rates for a minute-long primetime ad slots at Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV are about nine times lower than it was a month before the May, 2010 local elections. Rates are also much lower than ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008.
Prices for a minute-long ad slots on Georgian Public Broadcaster’s First Channel range from GEL 3,500 to GEL 7,000.
Kavkasia TV’s rates for this week range from minimum GEL 180 per minute in the morning to maximum GEL 720 per minute in its talk-shows Barrier, Hot Line and Spectrum.
Maestro TV has two types of ad rates - GEL 1,000 per minute for ad slots in morning and afternoon and GEL 1,650 per minute for slots in evening and late night.
The lowest rates among these television stations are at Channel 9, which is owned by Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili’s wife. Channel 9 is charging political parties from GEL 100 to maximum GEL 390 per minute.
The election code obligates broadcasters to set equal prices on political ads for every political party.
The broadcasters are also obligated by the law to allocate 90 seconds for free ads in every three hours to “qualified political parties” – these are the parties which have cleared, separately or together with others in an electoral bloc, a 4% threshold in parliamentary elections and a 3% threshold in local self-government elections. The Georgian Public Broadcaster has to allocate 60 seconds of free airtime in every hour to ads of “qualified parties”.
Citing the need to secure more transparency and more efficient monitoring of political finances, the State Audit Office has ordered political parties to pay ad prices in advance.
According to the election code those parties or election blocs, which will clear 5% threshold in the election, will receive from the state budget maximum of GEL 1 million to cover their campaign expenses; GEL 300,000 out of this one million should go to covering TV ad cost.
Ruling party, United National Movement, spent GEL 10.13 million on TV ads (the sum also includes ads' production costs) ahead of the local elections in 2010.