A media watchdog group, led by Polish activist-journalist Adam Michnik has been set up to monitor Georgian broadcasting standards and ethics for the next two months.
Along with Michnik himself, the group will also include Alexander Rondeli, the president of Tbilisi-based think-tank Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS); Ghia Nodia, head of Tbilisi-based think-tank Caucasian Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (both Rondeli and Nodia are also board members of the Georgian Public Broadcaster); Zviad Koridze, a journalist; Lasha Tugushi, the editor-in-chief of the daily Rezonansi newspaper; Davit Paichadze, head of the journalism department at Tbilisi State University; Nata Murvanidze, an actress, and academic Levan Khetaguri.
Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi on December 13, Michnik said that the group would focus on monitoring appeals for violence, hate speech and slander.
Michnik said, however, that the group wouldn’t necessarily limit itself to these three issues. “We may also discuss from time to time issues related to television station ownership,” he added.
The group’s recommendations will not be legally binding.
Michnik also said that the group would need about an hour and a half of Georgian Public Broadcaster airtime once a week to provide its findings to the public.
Michnik said he himself would not participate in the proposed TV discussions. “Georgians are like the Poles,” he said. “We don’t like it when some foreigner on TV tells us what to do.”
Michnik was asked by the European Union and the United States last month to mediate in resolving the Imedi TV impasse, following the station’s closure by the authorities at the time.
At the end of his mission on December 1 Michnik issued a tough-worded warning to the Georgian authorities, setting a one-week deadline for the resumption of Imedi broadcasts.
The legal impediments blocking Imedi’s reopening were lifted within a week, with the station actually resuming broadcasts on December 12. Michnik said the development was “a very positive signal sent from Georgia to the rest of the world.” He added that it was “a very good day for Georgian democracy.”