Proposal to change funding scheme for public TV in Georgia

The Georgian public broadcaster will have the right to operate three TV channels, instead of the current two and will be financed from the state budget with sum “not less” than equivalent to 0.12% of the country’s GDP, according to the proposal tabled in Parliament.

The proposed draft amendments to the law on broadcasting, if approved, will reintroduce a previous scheme of financing, which envisaged funding of the public broadcaster with the sum equivalent to 0.15% of the country’s GDP. The system, however, was scrapped as a result of legislative amendment in March 2008.

The restoration of the previous system is seen as some sort of financial guarantee for the broadcaster, as its funding will not depend on consideration of the government and the Parliament and instead would be linked to GDP.

Another proposal in the draft amendment will allow the public broadcaster to operate the additional third TV channel – obviously related to the plan to launch from next year a Russian-language channel targeting audience in the Caucasus region.

Another major plan that the public broadcaster has for 2010 is the launch of so-called political programming on its Second Channel. The plan involves transforming the broadcaster’s second channel into a C-SPAN or BBC Parliament-type of channel, which will provide coverage of government and parliament proceedings and in addition allocate airtime to politicians’ statements and press conference.

According to the 2010 state budget, which was approved by the Parliament last week, the public broadcaster’s funding is set at GEL 22 million (US$13.15 million) instead of GEL 25 million (US$14.94 million) in 2009.