Representatives of national and regional television stations, as well as print media outlets, held a meeting with Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze on January 26 to discuss the controversial amendments to the Law on Broadcasting.
The legislative bill, approved by the Parliament last month and vetoed by President Giorgi Margvelashvili on January 15, envisages further expansion of powers of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), and has attracted heavy criticism from civil society organizations and private broadcasters.
Representatives of private television stations slammed the new regulations again, arguing that they, especially the regional channels, would suffer financially from GPB’s entry into the advertising market.
Natia Kapanadze, head of the publicly-funded Adjara TV, criticized the amendments as well, saying the process would not “lead to better public broadcaster.”
Parliament Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze noted that there were differences among the ruling party lawmakers when the bill was being discussed in December, but added the lawmakers “failed to hear sufficient arguments” against the amendments.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili “failed to provide [solid] arguments” as well, according to Kobakhidze.
The Parliament Chairman also stressed that the ruling Georgian Dream party had “no political interests” regarding the bill, adding that it was important “to adopt the law, which will be beneficial for the development of the public broadcaster, on the one hand, and will not harm the interests of private broadcasters, on the other.”
The Parliamentary Chairman also expressed readiness to hold additional consultations on the amendments bill “in a broader format” with participation of GPB representatives and other lawmakers.