Monitoring report on media coverage of the implementation of the EU 12-point plan

As part of the project “Civil Monitoring of Accountability, Transparency and Anti-Corruption Activities within the Framework of the 12 Recommendations of the European Union,” hereby we present a report on the monitoring of media coverage that has been prepared by the Virtual Democracy Academy in cooperation with Civic IDEA.

The media monitoring aimed to study:

How frequently and in what tone (positive/negative/neutral) have televisions and online media covered the process of implementing the 12 recommendations;

Whether according to the tone of the coverage, there was any bias towards any issue or a position on the part of televisions and online media;

To what extent the work on the plan was at the center of media attention and in what form was the information distributed to the public;

Whether a certain balance was maintained between various points of the recommendations in disseminating information to the public or if the media prepared stories and analytical materials only on some specific points;

Whether the balance was maintained in communicating to the public the positions of different political entities, etc.

The media monitoring took place from the 1st of October to 30 December, 2022.

The main findings of the monitoring:

✅ The monitoring showed that of 12 recommendations, the issue of “deoligarchization” and all the relevant work on the “deoligarchization” law proved to be the most popular among Georgian media organizations. The mentioned subject was covered most often and with different interpretations by various media outlets. The media’s interest in the subject increased as in the proposed legislation, the owners of media outlets, along with other persons, became the target of the proposed legislation;

✅ Broadcasting media is extremely polarized. Some broadcasters are biased in favour of the government and its positions, while others are biased in favour of the opposition; Tmedi TV covered the EU recommendations extensively. However, the issue itself was not presented to the viewers on many sides and in a balanced manner. The channel was biased towards the government and, therefore, the issue was covered in a tone supporting the government’s position. However, the opposition was only mentioned negatively and as a player impeding the country’s progress toward European integration. The TV presenters and journalists did not shy away from a cynical attitude towards the opposition, nongovernmental sector, MEPs, and ambassadors. The TV channel did not invite representatives of the opposition party to its programs (only the political party Girchi and the party Citizens were invited);

TV Pirveli covered the topic of the 12 recommendations of the European Union in a weak and unilateral way, and it is just to note that the representatives of the government, the ruling party refused to visit the TV company. The channel carried only the opposition opinions in its talk shows, while the government’s position was offered to viewers in its news broadcasts, albeit in a negative context. TV Pirveli strongly criticizes the government, and the Government’s European integration policy has been regarded as negative – obstructing the country’s progress;

Palitranews TV stood out with a more balanced and neutral tone when presenting the 12-point plan. They covered the views of both the government and the opposition, as well as representatives of the nongovernmental sector. However, most of the news were trivial statements of the government or the opposition representatives. The subject of the 12 recommendations for a few times was the main topic of programs in political “talk shows”, and these programs were balanced in content. No bias towards any political party was apparent on the channel while covering the issues. Representatives from different political groups participated in the programs and diversity of opinions was more or less preserved. However, it should be noted that often the last guest on the program was a government representative. There were no debates on the channel;

Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) has spent considerable time on the issue of obtaining the candidate status and the process of implementing the recommendations of the European Union. The broadcaster had several attempts to conduct the coverage of the issue with less intensity, but at the same time – in an unbiased way. However, it was characterized by a tendency toward the government’s positions and by more or less loyal attitudes. In addition, they frequently devoted time to the positions of government representatives, both in the main news program and in political talk shows. There is a tendency on the channel to end the stories with assessments by the leaders of the ruling party, the Georgian Dream;

✅ Strong political polarization was less felt in online media compared to TV media. However, one of the three selected agencies – the pia.ge stood out for its loyal attitudes towards the government, by a positive tone of coverage, while tabula.ge expressed less interest in presenting the process in general and was more characterized by a negative tone of coverage. As far as interpressnews.ge is concerned, it covered almost all news from all parties. The tone of the coverage was mostly neutral, albeit trivial;

✅ The biggest challenge of the online media was the superficial coverage of the work on the 12 recommendations; The news agencies selected for monitoring were not able to cover the issues in depth.

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