Media Coverage of the 2016 Elections TV News Monitoring Report

The present report provides the findings of the first cycle of monitoring of news broadcasts from eleven TV channels, including 1st Channel of the public broadcaster, Rustavi 2, Maestro, GDS, Tabula, Kavkasia, TV Pirveli, Obieqtivi, Ajara TV, and TV 25. Media Monitoring was implemented within the framework of the project supported by UNDP and EU

The report covers the period from 20 May through 10 July 2016. The aim of the monitoring is to check whether the coverage of the election subjects is based on the principles of impartiality, integrity, reasonable balance, correctness, and non-discrimination. The normative acts, such as the Constitution of Georgia, the law on broadcasters, the broadcasters code of practice, and the principles of journalistic ethics, provide the ground for the monitoring.

The monitoring of the radio channels revealed the following key findings:

  • The government of Georgia (GoG) was the subject most actively covered by all TV channels.
  • The positive tone indicators were prevalent in 40% of the GDS’ coverage of government activities. Rustavi 2 was the most critical to the GoG with 71% of negative coverage and Imedi – the most neutral, with 75% of neutral tone.
  • Channel 1 of the public broadcaster revealed high indicators (20%) of positive tone in connection with the President of Georgia. Rustavi 2 was the most critical to the President with 14% of negative tone and TV Pirveli - the most neutral with 95% of neutral tone indicator.
  • Activities of the Georgian Dream party was covered most favorably on Ajara TV (28% of positive tone indicators), and most negatively on Rustavi 2 (14% of negative tone indicators). Maestro and Kavkasia were the most neutral with 82% of neutral tone indicators each.
  • The United National Movement had most positive coverage on Rustavi2 with 10% of positive tone indicators. Obieqtivi was the most critical to the UNM with 75% of negative tone indicators, and Tabula and Rustavi 2 revealed high indicators (75% each) of neutral tone.
  • Bidzina Ivanishvili was covered most favorably on Ajara TV (45% of positive tone indicators), and most negatively on Rustavi 2 (45% of negative tone indicators). Tabula and Imedi were the most neutral to Mr Ivanishvili with 75% of neutral tone indicators each.
  • Free Democrats lead with the highest rate (95% or more) of neutral coverage on all TV channels. 2
  • The content analysis of the TV broadcasts indicates that the channels cover election subjects more or less according to ethical standards. However, some sub-standard media products have also been identified.  In majority of cases TV channels use short footages with soundbites. In many cases news stories are based on only one source of information.
  • Journalists often use phrases "the telephone was turned off", "could not meet at the workplace", "was not in the office", "refrained from commenting", etc., which fall short of securing reasonable balance of a news coverage
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