GNCC decides Georgians don't want news or community information, prefer entertainment
Georgia's law on Broadcasting gives the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) the power to allocate television and radio broadcast licenses. Rather than allowing the market to govern the decision, the law unusually tasks the commission with seeking public opinion using public opinion polls every two years to govern its decisions. A poll was conducted in 2004. In 2008 a firm called BCG (www.bcg.ge) closely associated with the government and being the only one participating in the tender announced by the GNCC began a new poll which it finished in October of 2010. It released the results this month in which it said that only 8% of respondents are interested in news, information, investigative reporting, or community issues and the overwhelming majority of respondents prefer entertainment including soap operas, movies, and music. This finding directly contradicts the recent findings of an international social research center on the same topic (www.crrc.ge). On 18 April 2011 the GNCC held a meeting at which commission member Kakhi Kurashvili announced these priorities. The GNCC says it will announce competitive bidding for the licenses of the remaining frequencies. According to the law each bidder presents a strategy, and the winners will be those whose strategy coincides with these priorities. No priorities will be given to the community broadcasting. Transparency International Georgia believes this process and decision will severely limit information available to the population of Georgia in the period before the parliamentary election to be held in 2012 and the presidential election to be held in 2013. And we call on the GNCC to ensure that approvals in the next round of broadcasting licenses include channels dedicated to serious news, educational programming, and especially investigative journalism.