GEO

Who owns Georgia's media

19 October, 2015

In April 2014, Transparency International (TI) Georgia presented a detailed study of the ownership of media outlets that have national coverage or reach a large segment of the population1. The report also discussed background, connections and corporate interests of media owners.

Later, in July 2014, TI Georgia presented a second report that examined the ownership of regional media outlets, their role and funding2. Regional media outlets play an important role in shaping discussions in Georgia’s towns and villages. Their significance has further increased after the local self-governance reform, as a result of which mayors in 12 cities were directly elected. This report seeks to, on the one hand, update information regarding the ownership of major media outlets and demonstrate changes that have occurred with these outlets, and, on the other hand, focus on the ownership issues of online media publishers. To date, no thorough research into Georgian online media has been produced, while the impact of news websites on the public opinion grows as internet penetration increases3. This report is based on public records and information provided by media outlets. In order to receive detailed information, TI Georgia conducted dozens of interviews with the representatives of news websites.

As no single unified and trustworthy source for the ratings of online resources exists, websites included in this report were selected based on several criteria. All selected websites cover political news, extensively use social networks to disseminate news or consistently had up to 500 unique daily visitors in May-June 2015, according to information available via the web analytics website http://top.ge/.

Key findings 

  • The ownership of Georgian media outlets is transparent. There have not been any significant changes in ownership of major media outlets throughout the last year. None of the major media outlets are directly owned by a political group.
  • The legal battle over the ownership of Rustavi 2 is, most likely, politically motivated. This could adversely impact media freedom in Georgia.
  • There have been significant personnel changes at several major media companies in recent months. This has affected the content of broadcasting. In a number of instances, owners were suspected of interference in the editorial policies of the broadcasters, undermining media freedom.  
  • Several cable and internet outlets appear to be owned by anti-Western and religious organizations. Their declared revenue is rather small, making it unclear what resources these channels have been using to be able to broadcast.  
  • Several media outlet groups, united by their political preferences, can be differentiated. Some of these websites operate without a stable revenue or permanent employees, raising questions about their independence. 

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1 Who owns Georgia’s media: Power networks and corporate relationships behind Georgian media outlets, TI Georgia, April 2014. http://www.transparency.ge/en/post/report/who-owns-georgian-media-power-...  

2 Who owns regional media: TI Georgia releases a new report, TI Georgia, July 2014. http://www.transparency.ge/en/post/report/report-who-owns-regional-media  

3 According to the Caucasus Barometer study, number of internet users increased from 32% to 48% between 200920135

The Publication has been prepared with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The views expressed in the report do not necessarily represent those of Sida. Transparency International Georgia is solely responsible for the report’s content.