30 Mar 2012

Media Freedom Still Restricted in Georgia

Under President Saakashvili, the Georgian government has implemented numerous reforms, including measures directed at tackling corruption. However, there is continuous evidence that the country still needs significant improvements in terms of press freedom, and that the government maintains strong influence over media reports.

A recent case involving the suspicious death of a man in policy custody renewed concerns about tight political control over media outlets, as all three nation-wide TV channels broadcast very similar reports, focusing on the politicization of the case by the opposition instead of exploring the facts related to suspect’s death.

According to citizens and investigative journalists, it is recurrent that political reporting by mainstream media in the country appears to be coordinated. Moreover, critical reporting of the government is rare. Two of the main TV stations in Georgia are privately owned, but headed by individuals connected to the current administration. The third main station is state-owned.

International organizations such as Transparency International and Freedom House have pointed out to weaknesses in the country’s democratic development, particularly with regards to media freedom. According to Freedom House’s assessment, Georgia is still considered to be partly free, and the country’s position in Reporters Without Borders’s freedom index has deteriorated significantly since 2007, from 66 to 105. According to survey data, this situation has contributed to weaken citizens’ trust in the media over the years.

For more details read the article “Little media freedom in Saakashvili’s Georgia” on dw.de. The picture shown above is also featured in the article and is credited to Deutsche Presse Agentur.