With the parliamentary elections almost two weeks away, two major nationwide broadcasters, Rustavi 2 and Imedi, have significantly increased political TV advertisement rates.
Next week prices for a minute-long political ad on Rustavi 2 TV will be ranging from minimum of GEL 1,975 in morning hours on weekend to maximum GEL 22,222 in its late-night chat show on Thursday; other high valued ad slots on Rustavi 2 TV are UEFA Champions League midweek fixtures when the price of a minute-long ad will cost GEL 17,284; the same rate is in its comedy TV series, followed by its main news bulletin Kurieri (Courier) at 9pm with GEL 16,296 per minute. A month ago rates on Rustavi 2 TV ranged from GEL 660 to GEL 6,250 per minute.
Political ad rates on Imedi TV will range next week from GEL 2,469 in morning hours on weekend to GEL 22,222 per minute in its entertainment chat show on Tuesday and comedy TV series on weekend. A minute-long political ad slot in Imedi TV’s main news bulletin at 8pm will cost GEL 16,296. A month ago rates on Imedi TV varied from minimum GEL 990 to maximum GEL 4,940 per minute.
Rates have been about halved by the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s First Channel and price for minute-long political ad slot went down to GEL 1,575 for the cheapest one and the most expensive one costs GEL 3,150.
Since mid-August Tbilisi-based Kavkasia TV has slightly increased its rates with prices now ranging from GEL 300 to GEL 900 per minute.
Maestro TV has also slightly increased prices; it now has one-minute slots worth GEL 800 in morning and afternoon and GEL 1,300 in evening and late night.
Channel 9, a television station funded by Georgian Dream opposition coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, has mainly kept the same rates as it had in August, having the lowest prices among these television stations; it charges 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”.
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. In addition, twelve political parties, based on votes received in the 2010 local elections, are receiving state funding to cover the cost of political TV advertisement.