Kakha Bekauri, the Chairman of the Georgian National Communications Commission, on Wednesday said “polarised and politically biased” journalistic environment was among challenges of the domestic media, in comments on the body’s 2021 report to the Parliament.
Bekauri said media monitoring of 2021 elections of municipal bodies had showed a “pluralistic and diverse” media landscape but also a sharply “polarised and politically biased” environment. He said that similarly to 2020, the election campaign of 2021 had involved “hate speech, spreading of false information, manipulation and political bias” in media outlets.
Bekauri told lawmakers some of the problems were going to be resolved through amendments initiated last year to the Law on Broadcasting in accordance with requirements of a European Union directive.
As part of the amendments, programmes and advertisements containing hate speech and calls to terrorism come under regulation, he said, adding individuals would be able to respond to cases of alleged cases of “incorrect information” being released about them via media channels.
The Commission said the changes to the regulations were set to come into effect on July 1, with broadcasters given a transitionary period to bring their operations into compliance.
Bekauri also told MPs the spread of “false information, manipulation and political bias” remained the main challenge for the media, an issue he said required a “broad discussion and elimination of the problem”.
The Commission is working to introduce a “high journalistic standard” and eliminate broadcasts of “obscenity” from media content, the Chairman said, adding the problem of content involving violence, nudity and “inappropriate language” in outlets still remained.
In comments about financial transparency of the media, Bekauri said broadcasters were submitting forms defined by the law on financial transparency since January, after a “large number of broadcasters” had failed to comply with the law “for years”.