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Sakartvelo authorities to turn mass media inside out2011-02-07 11:29
In December 2010 Georgian parliament promised to consider amendments to the law forbidding offshore firms to own TV companies. The explanation is simple: financial transparency of assets must comply with the law. However, many experts believe that the government's plan is to pull the wool over people's eyes as usual. Mass media want more than just transparency insisting on financial audit of the government's favorites, as proposed by Resonansi newspaper editor-in-chief Lasha Tugushi under USAID-financed Public Forum and Dialogue project.
Georgian government and mass media have been pursuing an uncompromising struggle for a long time. Georgian parliament's legal committee has come up with a draft bill that bans people registered in offshore zones from owning shares in TV companies. Besides, in accordance with other legislative acts TV companies shall submit data on the amount and source of applied financial investments to the Georgian National Communications Commission.
"National TV companies that broadcast all over the country shall submit an audit statement made in compliance with these standards. A statement must be prepared by one of top six, eight or ten audit companies well-known and reputable worldwide. This will help the state not only investigate into these issues but also take legal measures against certain persons. Such actions involve criminal responsibility. This will help explore the issues and present reports on the situation legally when the authorities don't react", - New Region web portal quotes Vakhtang Khmaladze, chair of the alternative Public Constitutional Commission.
It seems Mikheil Saakashvili and his teammates seek transparency of "voices of freedom" for their own ends: to find out large pieces to bite off. It is also evident why United National Movement was ardently asserting the right of the offshore companies to buy at least 10% shares of a TV company. It's common knowledge that the owner of "plants, newspapers and steam boats" in Georgia is the head of the state, together with his numerous relatives and sidekicks.
Newspapers, radio and television, on the contrary, want liberation from the state's pressure and freedom of action. During a public discussion on financial independence of mass media held in Tbilisi under Public Forum and Dialogue, Resonansi newspaper editor-in-chief Lasha Tugushi emphasized the need of financial independence of mass media. Tugushi provided immitigable statistics revealing corruption on the media market in his report "Possibilities and problems of financial independence, stability and management in mass media".