Over seventy civil society organizations (CSOs) and activists announced a new public campaign aimed at reforming the state-funded Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB).
The campaign initiators, among them the Transparency International Georgia, the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association and the Open Society Georgia Foundation, issued a statement on February 9, where they expressed their concern over “the deep institutional crisis” at the public broadcaster and proposed a six-point action plan for its reform.
In their demands, CSOs called on Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to hold a meeting with them, and discuss the recent developments concerning the public television, as well as on ways forward.
They also urged the Parliament to summon members of the Board of Trustees and the Director General “to look into the activities of the Public Broadcaster and organize a public hearing to examine the extent to which the broadcaster is fulfilling its legal obligations.”
The CSOs also demand resignation of GPB’s Director General, Vasil Maglaperidze, who was appointed to the position in early 2017. The organizations claim that under Maglaperidze’s leadership, the broadcaster “has made a number of inconsistent and questionable decisions,” including his “vague” reform plans, “closed” recruitment policy, “suspicious” procurements, etc.
The civil society organizations also believe that the activities of the new management in 2017 call for an unscheduled audit by the State Audit Office.
They also urge the Parliament to set up a working group with the involvement of civil society organizations for developing “a better model for setting quotas and selecting members of the Board of Trustees.”
The CSOs also touched upon the controversial GPB-related legislative bill, which was approved by the Parliament in December and vetoed by President Giorgi Margvelashvili on January 15.
Here, the organizations repeated their earlier statements that the proposed amendments “reduce GPB’s openness and transparency, increase the risk of corruption, and significantly harm the advertising market,” and called on the Parliament to uphold the presidential objections, and work with the civil society organizations and other stakeholders on changes that are “genuinely needed” to reform the broadcaster.
The GPB-related developments have attracted heavy criticism from civil society organizations previously as well.