Pro-Russian and anti-Western media outlets receive state funding
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At the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, European Georgia – Movement for Freedom member, Zurab Chiaberashvili, stated: “The Government of Georgia uses budgetary money to fund pro-Russian media outlets. Multiple government agencies used state funds to place advertisements in those media outlets which, on the one hand, circulate propaganda about Europe and democratic values and, on the other hand, are involved in pro-Russian propaganda.”

The Media Development Foundation carries out research to study the distribution of budgetary funds for the placement of information and advertisements in the media. The Foundation’s research demonstrates that media outlets which promote hate speech and anti-Western sentiments were getting budgetary funds through advertisement contracts and other arrangements in the period of 2013-2015 (see FactCheck’s article on this topic). In accordance with the Media Development Foundation’s report, in contrast with the previous years, contracts were concluded with openly pro-Russian media outlets in the period of 2016-2017.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) issued the following recommendation in 2015: “Authorities should review their contracts with media outlets known for engaging in racist or homo-/transphobic hate speech and cancel or refrain from renewing any agreements. The authorities should also ensure that future contracts contain a clause stipulating that racist or homo-/transphobic hate speech will result in the termination of a contract.”

Civil society and the opposition have called upon the Government of Georgia multiple times to cease funding media outlets with anti-Western rhetoric and hate speech. As a response, Giorgi Kvirikashvili himself stated in 2015 that he was concerned because of the rise of Russian propaganda in the country. However, the Prime Minister of Georgia rejected the fact that those media outlets were getting funds from state agencies.

At the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Prime Minister of Georgia was asked a similar question in regard to funding xenophobic media through advertisement contracts and other arrangements. Giorgi Kvirikashvili rejected the fact on that occasion as well.

Media outlets which cultivate xenophobic, anti-Western and pro-Russian sentiments continue to receive money from budgetary funds (through advertisement contracts and other arrangements). At the same time, as noted in the Media Development Foundation’s research, budgetary contracts were signed with those media outlets which have a pro-Russian editorial policy (Tbilisi 24, Quality Channel).

 

Table 1: Budgetary Contracts Signed in 2017 with Media Outlets which Promote Hate Speech and Anti-Western Sentiments and Circulate Russian Propaganda

Media Outlet Name Contract Service Fee
Sakartvelos Respublika GEL 38,521
Alia.ge GEL 20,000(total value of the contract together with other media outlets)
Tbilisi 24 GEL 3,387
Quality Channel LTD GEL 3,200
Alia GEL 2,400
News Agency Marshalpress GEL 1,900
Obiektivi GEL 1,855(contract concluded within the framework of consolidated tender)

Source: Media Development Foundation, Pre-Election Financial Media Environment 

 

 

Conclusion

Xenophobic, anti-Western and openly pro-Russian media outlets receive money from budgetary funds (media through advertisement contracts, subscriptions and other arrangements). The Media Development Foundation published its first research about this issue in 2015 which included data of 2013-2014. Despite numerous statements from the opposition, media and civil society, state agencies continue to have cooperation and conclude contracts with media outlets which promote hate speech and anti-Western rhetoric and circulate pro-Russian propaganda. Additionally, in accordance with the Media Development Foundation’s research, state agencies concluded contracts with openly pro-Russian media outlets, such as Tbilisi 24 and the Quality Channel, in 2017.

FactCheck concludes that Zurab Chiaberashvili’s statement is TRUE.

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