Human Rights Watch published an article on March 6th titled “Georgia: Media Freedom at Risk,” which emphasizes the organization’s concerns about potential government interference in the Rustavi 2 TV case.
“An ownership dispute over Georgia’s most-watched television broadcaster, Rustavi 2, has sparked serious concerns about potential government interference with both media and the judiciary, Human Rights Watch said today.
Rustavi 2’s current leadership, the political opposition, and many independent groups see a lawsuit by a former owner seeking to retake ownership and a March 2, 2017 ruling by the Supreme Court endorsing the change as a government-orchestrated move to take over the opposition-minded station. The European Court of Human Rights has ordered temporary suspension of the Supreme Court decision and instructed the Georgian authorities to refrain from interference in the station.
‘A government-favored change in the editorial policy of Rustavi 2 would deliver a serious blow to Georgia’s media pluralism and could significantly limit the public’s access to opposition views,’ said Giorgi Gogia, South Caucasus director at Human Rights Watch. ‘The entire process of contesting Rustavi 2’s ownership threatens media freedom and judicial independence and demands further scrutiny,’” reads the article.
Regarding the current situation in the Georgian Public Broadcaster, Human Rights Watch notes: “In February, the leadership of the Public Broadcaster announced controversial plans to suspend political talk shows, citing reorganization plans to upgrade the station’s equipment and content.”