Organizations Respond to the Termination of the Red Zone and the InterVIEW by the Public Broadcaster

We, the undersigned public organizations respond to the statement, made by the Public Broadcaster on June 13, with regard to the closure of the Public Broadcaster's TV projects - "Red Zone" and "InterVIEW" from July of the current year.  We, the undersigned organizations believe that closure of TV programs of "Radio Tavisupleba" may be related to the interest in avoiding the government's sharp criticism at the Georgian Public Broadcaster and raises a doubt on the political interests of the GPB management in terminating these programs.

The joint TV projects of the broadcaster and "Radio Tavisupleba" - "Red Zone" and "InterVIEW" are programs of outstanding political and social importance that are distinguished by the acute criticism of political processes. These programs promote the actualization of oppressed and invisible social groups and systemic political and social problems and enhance the government's accountability. Both programs are fully consistent with the idea and principles of the Public Broadcaster and enjoy the high support of the public. According to the internal surveys of the public broadcaster, the "Red Zone" has a high rating, and the importance of the "InterVIEW" is publicly recognized by the management of the Public Broadcaster itself. Under these circumstances, decision on termination of these programs by the management of Georgian Public Broadcaster, with general and abstract reasoning that the management does not want to produce political programs with external resources, is unreasonable and arbitrary, and indicates the interest of the management in gaining maximum and direct control on TV programs with political content.

The concept of reform presented by the newly elected Director of the Public Broadcaster was followed by massive criticism and resistance from society. The so-called reform aimed at closing major programs and increasing the GPB rating due to the risk of instant technical collapse. However, due to the fact that the assessment of the problems presented by the management was not sufficiently substantial, and that there was no evidence of the risk of instant technical collapse of the broadcaster, the new management of the broadcaster had to retreat somewhat. Due to a high public criticism against the policy of the newly elected Director with close political affiliation with the Government, the management of GBP has made decision on the process of selecting programs on a competitive basis and   in accordance with the criteria set by the Board of Trustees of the Public Broadcaster. It is obvious that the opportunity to evaluate the process will be given to the society in the future, but the decision already made by the management on the closure of the programs "Red Zone" and "InterVIEW" clearly demonstrates its political interests and raises fears of politicization of the process of termination of programs planned in the future. The arbitrary and unsubstantiated decision of the Public Broadcaster substantially decreases public trust towards the broadcaster and indicates a possible tendency of terminating critical programs.

Taking all of the above into consideration, we, the undersigned organizations demand from the Public Broadcaster:

- To continue broadcasting the programs - "Red Zone" and "InterVIEW";

- To present a reasonable and detailed argument on the basis of which decision was made about termination of these programs;

- To carry out GPB's reforms and the next process of selecting TV programs so as to meet the idea of the Public Broadcaster, principles of its political neutrality, independence, transparency and pluralism, and the priorities defined by the Board of Trustees,  as much as possible;

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)

Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) 

Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)

Coalition for Media Advocacy

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)



APRIL 2018

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