OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, reiterated on Thursday that she is concerned over the ongoing ownership dispute over Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV and its implications for media pluralism in Georgia.
This is the second time the OSCE media freedom representative makes a public statement on Rustavi 2 since August, when one of the broadcaster’s former owners filed a lawsuit seeking reclaiming his shares. As an interim measure court ordered in August to freeze Rustavi 2 TV assets, which was followed less than two months later with an additional court injunction, which froze assets of Rustavi 2 TV shareholder company. Rustavi 2 TV claimed that this latter court injunction blocked USD 6 million investment needed for sustaining broadcaster’s operations.
“If not lifted soon, the court order will entail serious restrictions on the diversity and plurality of the media in the country,” Mijatović said in a statement on October 22. “I also noted statements by some high-level government officials on the matter, which might negatively influence the court proceedings.”
She said that the situation was “especially worrisome” given the importance of a pluralistic media environment ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for autumn, 2016.
Mijatović, who raised the issue of Rustavi 2 TV with the Georgian authorities on several occasions in the past, reiterated her call that authorities to do their utmost to enable media pluralism in the country.