Transparency watchdog reviews media election coverage

TI Georgia representatives held press conference today. Photo by TI Georgia., 12 Jun 2014 - 18:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

An independent organization committed to eradicating corruption in Georgia is pleased with Georgian media’s "unbiased” coverage of the pre-election environment.

In a pre-election media overview today, Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) said Georgian media offered unbiased coverage of election-related topics and voters had infinite access to diverse information.

TI Georgia said much had changed in recent years and now there were almost no reports of journalists’ intimidation or interference in their activities, unlike the 2012 Parliamentary elections, TI Georgia stated.

However there were a few instances in Georgia’s regions where journalists had been prevented from attending or asking questions at meetings of election candidates. TI Georgia said there were also a few cases where a journalist got into a verbal dispute with a Government representative over a critical media report prepared by the journalist.

After observing the pre-election environment in Georgia, TI Georgia said television remained the main source of information for Georgian citizens.

The Internet was another common source of information however concerns regarding illegal surveillance remained, said TI Georgia.

The non-governmental organisation critically assessed illegal recordings of Georgian television station Rustavi 2. On May 6 company officials claimed the Rustavi 2 headquarters had been bugged. Authorities began investigating the incident the same day and later, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office stepped up to officially lead the investigation, which is still ongoing.

The TI Georgia report highlighted many positive aspects of the pre-election environment, it also stated Georgian media still lacked analytical reporting.

The report said much of the current reporting focused on covering candidates’ campaign activities and statements, while most journalists failed to raise critical questions and provide in-depth analysis of candidates’ programs.

There are three days until the self-government elections. This is a unique election for the country as it will be the first time Georgian citizens can directly elect 12 city Mayors, 59 heads of the local municipalities, known as Gamgebeli and 71 new local councils, Sakrebulos, for a term of three years and four months.