The Government of Georgia gives public funds to anti-Western media outlets
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A member of the United National Movement, Giorgi Kandelaki, MP, stated: “The Government of Georgia gives public funds to anti-Western media outlets. Recently, this was confirmed by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.”

Another member of the United National Movement, Giga Bokeria, discussed this topic on air as a guest of the talk show, Archevani. Mr Bokeria stated: “Taxpayers’ money is given to the very groups and media outlets which are enemies of our country. The new Prime Minister, whom we addressed during the Parliamentary hearings, has no reaction in regard to this fact and this process is continuing.”

FactCheck took interest in this topic.

On 1 March 2015, the fifth report on Georgia, drafted by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), was published. The report includes the period from November 2012 to June 2015.

The report highlights facts of various ministries and government agencies giving funds through the placement of advertisements and concluding other contracts with those media outlets which promote hate speech. Research by the Media Development Foundation (MDF) is given as a source. According to this particular research: “In the period of 2013-2014, the Obiektivi Media Union received at least USD 25,000 whilst the newspapers Alia and Kviris Kronika received approximately USD 20,000 together from the ministries and other government agencies from the placing of advertisements as well as for other contracts.” The research indicates that the newspapers Kviris Kronika, Alia and the Obiektivi television channel are media outlets promoting hate speech.

The ECRI recommends that the authorities 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.

In 2015, the Media Development Foundation published its research entitled Public Funds for Media Promoting Hate Speech and Anti-Western Sentiments. According to this work, media outlets promoting hate speech, xenophobia, homophobia and anti-Western sentiments received public funds for the provision of advertising services in 2013-2014.

 

Table 1: Public Funds for Media Promoting Hate Speech and Anti-Western Sentiments

Media Outlet Amount of Public Funds (GEL)
Obiektivi 52,167
Sakartvelos Respublika 63,923
Alia and Kviris Kronika (together) 48,650
Asaval-Dasavali 1,200

 

Of additional note is that the Estonian MP, Andres Herkel, asked the Prime Minister of Georgia the following question at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: “There is a heavy influence from Russia over the media environment in Georgia. Unfortunately, we were notified that certain xenophobic media outlets are getting support from the Government of Georgia through advertising contracts. What are you going to do in order to stop this trend?” In turn, Giorgi Kvirikashvili responded: “I would not say that xenophobic media receives public funds. This is probably the perception of some members of the opposition. I can say that opposition TV channels are more intensely funded from the budget. We cannot block any media outlet. The only thing we can do is to make a choice and we made our choice in favour of pro-Western media.”

FactCheck addressed the Prime Minister with the question of whether or not the Government of Georgia plans to stop giving public funds (through advertisement services or other contracts) to media outlets promoting hate speech and anti-Western sentiments. We will come back to this issue if we receive a reply to our question.

 

Conclusion

The Report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance states that media outlets promoting hate speech receive public funds from ministries and other government agencies through advertisement services and other contracts. The Commission recommends that the authorities review their contracts with these media outlets. The Commission’s report is based on the research of the Media Development Foundation which confirms that media outlets promoting hate speech and anti-Western rhetoric received public funds for providing advertising services in 2013-2014.

FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Kandelaki’s statement is TRUE.

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