GEO

Tbilisi City Hall Pre-electoral Advertisement

26 September, 2017

In the course of the past couple of days, two TV stations, Rustavi 2 and Imedi, have been airing a video with the slogan “Done for Tbilisi”. The narrator in the video talks about the infrastructural projects carried out in the years 2014-2017. By our assessment, we consider this video as an advertisement for the Tbilisi City Hall and that its airing violates Georgian legislation and damages the pre-election environment.

The airing of this video violates the following Georgian legislation:

  • According to Article 661 and the Decision №398/18 adopted on June 15 by the National Communications Commission, administrative bodies are forbidden to finance broadcasters for the airing of advertisements, except in exceptional cases;
  • Administrative bodies are not forbidden to place social advertisements, however the video was not published as a social advertisement. Notably, the video does not even meet the requirements to be qualified as a social advertisement;
  • With the aforementioned two points in mind, Tbilisi City Hall could have had only one remaining legal basis to place their video. This is the second sentence of Article 661 (2), which refers to the dissemination of important information to the public.

The video includes footages of the constructed roads, bridges and other infrastructural projects carried out in the years 2014-2017. The video does not provide important information, as it doesn’t disseminate news, procedures or updates on emergency topics.

Moreover, the official pre-election campaign is already underway. Therefore, the airing of such a video may be perceived by the public as an indirect advertisement in favor of the ruling party. This will count as the use of administrative resources. TI Georgia has pointed to similar issues during the previous elections.

TI Georgia’s recommendations:

  • We call upon the Georgian National Communications Commission to look into the aforementioned fact and take appropriate measures;
  • We call upon the Tbilisi City Hall to cease the airing of such videos on TV broadcasters
  • We call upon the Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections to take note of this case and issue a respective recommendation, if required.