Lawmakers voted on March 7 to set up an ad hoc parliamentary investigative commission to look into “serious allegations” against the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC).
GNCC is charged with the issuing licenses for broadcasting and electronic communications activities and overseeing the sector.
A lawmaker from the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority Zurab Tkemaladze, who chairs committee for sector economy and who initiated launch of investigative commission, said that the planned probe was stemming from complaints received from some communication service provider companies, including Akhtel and Akhali Kselebi, over GNCC’s activities.
MP Tkemaladze told lawmakers that the probe would focus into persisting “serious allegations” against GNCC, involving alleged abuse of powers, forging of documents, failure to enforce court rulings and conflict of interest of GNCC members.
UNM lawmaker Levan Bezhashvili said that the parliamentary minority would engage in the work of the planned investigative commission.
The Parliament has yet to compose the planned 12-member ad hoc commission.
According to the regulations parliamentary majority should have no more than half of the seats in investigative commission; the rest should go to representatives of those parliamentary factions which are not part of the parliamentary majority group.
GNCC consists of five members, elected by the Parliament for a five-year term. GNCC is now chaired by Irakli Chikovani, who became its member in June, 2009; he is a former general director and former co-owner of Rustavi 2 television station.
Tbilisi-based watchdog group, Transparency International Georgia, in its policy recommendations to the new Parliament and government last November calling for improving shortcomings in media sector, said that “a number of the GNCC’s decisions over the past few years have been perceived as arbitrary and the regulator has not been seen as sufficiently neutral and independent.”
“Media reports and several civil society organizations have highlighted a perceived conflict of interest of the Chairman of the Commission because of his private-sector activities. However, the Commission has professional and highly qualified staff, and has in recent months made efforts to become more open and transparent in its interactions with stakeholders,” TI Georgia said.