The Story of Working Advocacy
 

 

by Hatia Jinjikhadze, Media Program Manager, OSGF

Students protest in front of the Tbilisi State University Claiming Fair Election Environment, End of Violence in Prisons and  Prolongation of Terms of Must Carry Beyond Elections, Photograph by Mari Nikuradze, reporter at DFWatch.net. 2012

 

Three or four years ago, the word "advocacy" was barely known in Georgia. It was something occasionally used by people working at non-governmental organizations, and it was generally perceived as something cool, but it wasn't part of our everyday lives.

These days at the Foundation and elsewhere in civil society, advocacy has become a normal and natural part of our lives.

It was in 2010 that OSGF gathered lawyers, media experts and journalists in the little town of Signaghi to work on media laws. Nobody knew this gathering would turn into something bigger and long-lasting and shape up as a Media Advocacy Coalition.

Launching the Coalition was not easy. It took several months of heated debate and lengthy discussions. Participants worked through a lot of positive and negative emotions to pull together and find an appropriate working format. Today it is a union of 12 NGOs and media associations with the strategic goals of improving the media environment, ensuring freedom of information, enforcing media laws, and protecting the security of journalists and editorial independence of media outlets.

Through its numerous public statements, solidarity actions, roundtable discussions and meetings with government officials, the Coalition has both voiced the concernsofindependent media and offered solutions.

For the past two years this group of idealists has proved to be efficient, ambitious and persistent in achieving its goals.

In 2011, as a result of active lobbying, the law on media ownership transparency was adopted. Later on the Coalition organized a solidarity campaign with the independent media holding company Palitra Media to stop government pressure.

On May 26, 2011, a brutal police crackdown on anti-government protesters in Tbilisi included attacks on journalists. Coalition members documented and publicized the attacks; the court ruled later that the Ministry of Interior must pay compensation for injuring people and damaging equipment. In July, five photographers were arrested and accused of spying; protests by journalists and others drew international attention and gained the photographers' release.

In 2012, members of the Media Advocacy Coalition drafted new regulations to require cable operators to offer TV viewers more choice in news channels. Passage of these "Must Offer-Must Carry" regulations was actively promoted by the Coalition as part of the It Affects You Too! campaign, and as a result the rules were finally promulgated by the Parliament of Georgia. 

The last working day of 2012 was marked with special importance. This is when a new package of amendments to the Georgian Law on Broadcasting was introduced to the new Parliament of Georgia. The amendments, focusing on the financial transparency of media and the reorganization of Public Broadcasting, were drafted by members of the Media Advocacy Coalition.

Today the to-do list of the Media Advocacy Coalition is only expanding. Together with a wider circle of NGOs and professionals, the Coalition will focus on the process of digital switch-over along with other important issues discussed at its loud and semiformal weekly meetings.

The Foundation is a member and a proud host of the Coalition.

 

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Members of the coalition:

• Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters

• Georgian Regional Media Association

• Regional TV Network

• Media Club

• The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics

• Institute for Development of Freedom of Information ( IDFI)

• Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)

• Transparency International Georgia

• Georgian Young Lawyer's Association (GYLA)

• Civic Development Institute

• NGO for Civil Society

• Levan Mikeladze Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 


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