ISFED Reacts on Suspension of Political Talk Shows by Imedi TV

On August 29, 2015, Imedi TV announced about suspension of its political talk shows. As a result, two popular weekly programs - Imedi’s Week and Reaction are now temporarily off the air. 

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy criticizes suspension of two popular political programs in Georgian broadcasting one year prior to parliamentary elections and believes that clarifications made by Imedi TV fail to address public suspicious about political harassment of media outlets. 

Regrettably, Imedi TV has not sufficiently explained its decision. Despite being a private company, high public interest requires that Imedi TV provide meaningful explanation, especially in light of the fact that talk-show hosts have made public statements about alleged political harassment. The reason why highly popular TV programs were suspended remains ambiguous. 

Space for discussions has been gradually decreasing in Georgian broadcasting sphere, as demonstrated by dismissal of several journalists from Maestro TV and cancelling of popular programs, which has brought independence of media outlets into question. 
This is especially alarming considering that political talk shows and healthy discussion are of paramount importance for objective coverage of political environment and for keeping voters adequately informed. 

We believe that pluralist media environment is an essential element of democracy; free and fair election environment will suffer a great blow from its absence, so will healthy political debates. 

We remain hopeful that Imedi TV will provide adequate explanations and address public suspicions. We also hope that national broadcasters will fully realize the role that they play in formation of pluralist and healthy media environment.