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Self Regulation Practice

MDF, Safari, Identoba, GDI, TDI vs. Palitra TV

 Complaint: A program "With Palavandishvili – Me and Society School Subject” was aired on Palitra TV at 8 pm on February 28 (host Guram Palavandishvili). 

A group of non-governmental organizations – Media Development Foundation (MDF), Union Safari, Identoba, Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) and Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI) initiated a complaint to the Self-Regulatory Body of Palitra TV on March 9, 2016, demanding it to investigate the violation of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters by the TV channel. 

The authors of the complaint claim that the program aired by Palitra TV has actually encouraged negative and aggressive attitudes towards LGBT people through disseminating misinformation, establishing stereotypes and negative prejudices, as well as making statements violating honor and dignity of an individual. Thus, it roughly violated the principles of journalistic ethics, as well as the requirements of the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting and the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters. In particular: 

During the program the host seized upon the opportunity and demonstrated discrimination against LGBT people, also used discriminatory language against the latter. For example, the host said at the very beginning of the program that "on February 21, Identoba planned a conference at the university dedicated to LGBT propaganda among the youth; they invited their activists from Guria, Adjara, sexually depraved people and planned to hold a lecture…” 

The guests of the program made homophobic statements; all of them shared one position – Me and Society school subject was portrayed as the propaganda of immorality.” There were no attempts during the program to offer dissent opinions – for example, opinions and arguments of the Ministry of Education, human rights watchdogs and LGBT people. 

The host deliberately tried to provide false and misleading information to the public. For example, during the program he discussed the issue of teaching textbooks "Compass” and "Compasito” at public schools as an inevitable possibility in order to strengthen a discriminatory effect demonstrated against LGBT people from the very beginning of the program. 

The authors of the complaint believe that by this program the TV channel violated articles 31, 32, 33.2, 33.3, 33.4, 13.1 and 31.2 of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters, in particular the principles of accuracy, impartiality, fair treatment, diversity, equality and tolerance. 

Decision: By decision of the Complaint Review Commission dated March 25, 2016, the complaint filed by the NGOs was rejected. 

Appeal:On April 7, 2016 the NGOs applied to the Appeals Body of Palitra News. 

Complaint filed to the Georgian National Communications Commission:On April 7, 2016, the NGOs filed a complaint to Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC). According to the claimants, the complaint was discussed at the Self-Regulatory Body of Palitra TV without the participation of the party; it means that the requirement of article 14 of the Law on Broadcasting was violated.

GNCC’s decisionOn April 18, 2016 the commission held a hearing on the admissibility of the complaint. GNCC refused to launch administrative proceedings into the complaint filed by non-governmental organizations – "Sapari” NNLE, "Identoba” NNLE, "Media Development Fund” NNLE, "Georgian Democracy Initiative” NNLE, "Tolerance and Diversity Institute” NNLE against Palitra TV, since the dispute review was still underway in frames of the Self-Regulatory Body. 

On April 27, the complaint was considered by the Self-Regulatory Appeals Body staffed by Ia Antadze, Lasha Tugushi, George Otkhmezuri.

On June 22, Media Development Foundation (MDF) filed a complaint to the Georgian National Communications Commission and requested response on violation of Article 10 (paragraph 6) of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters, which states that "the appeal body shall arrive at a decision within 30 days. Where it needs more than 30 days to take a decision, the appeal body shall justify the extension of the appeal handling term and notify all the concerned parties about such an extension". 

On July 25 applicant non-governmental organizations received a letter from Palitra News, in which . Media organization requested extra time for making decision and explained it with the need of time for considering international practice, variety of legal acts and recommendations.

On September 1, base on MDF's complaint, National Communications Commission started discussing the case of procedural violations. 

On September 8, the Georgian National Communications Commission upheld the complaint filed by Media Development Foundation against Palitra TV. The Commission established that the broadcaster violated the Law on Broadcasting and the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters while discussing the complaint within the Self-Regulatory Body - In particular, the parties were not invites at the initial stage of discussion on the complaint within the Self-Regulatory Body, appeal body did not informed the parties about the need of more than 30 days term for making decision and Appeals Commission did not discuss all the circumstances mentioned in the complaint. 

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