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President Vetoed Amendments Draft Bill to the Law on Broadcasting

June 27, 2013
Gela Bochikashvili,

President Saakashvili has vetoed draft amendments, approved by third parliamentary hearing, to be made to the Georgian Law on Broadcasting, President’s official website reports.

The reasoning for the veto sounds as follows: “the draft law adopted by Parliament substantially decreases the quorum needed for declaring distrust to the member of the Board of Trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) and that unambiguously jeopardizes the principle of commissioners’ independence and impartiality.”

The draft bill, President believes, allows declaration of mistrust to not only certain members of the Board but the Board of Trustees as a whole and the termination of their authority. The law being currently applicable does not allow for this possibility.

“The aforementioned provisions of the draft bill substantially decrease the independence of GPB Board and its members from State agencies and poses threat to Board members dismissal from their positions for political reasons,” reads the statement.

According to the Constitution of Georgia “A draft law adopted by the Parliament shall be submitted to the President of Georgia within a term of seven days. The President shall sign and promulgate the law within a term of ten days or return it to the Parliament with reasoned remarks. The deadline for approving or vetoing the draft was due to expire on June 25. If the President returns the draft law to the Parliament, the latter shall put to the vote the remarks of the President. A draft law or a draft resolution shall be deemed to be adopted if it is supported by the majority of the members of the Parliament present, but not be less than one third of the total number of the members of Parliament.

In line with Article 171 of the Regulations of the Parliament of Georgia the parliament shall examine the returned draft bill with reasoned remarks within 15 days.

If the Parliament rejects the remarks of the President, the initial redaction of the draft law shall by put to the vote. A draft law shall be deemed to be adopted if it is supported by not less than half of the number of the members of the Parliament on the current nominal list. If the President fails to promulgate the draft law within the defined term the parliamentary Chairperson shall sign and publish the law on the website of Georgian Legislative Herald within five days.

FYI, according to the law, the number of members of the GPB Board of Trustees decreases from 15 to 9 members. Two of the board member shall be nominated by the Public Defender, the Parliamentary majority will nominate another three, yet another three members will be nominated by those outside the majority, and one will be nominated by the Supreme Council of Adjara. The candidates for the Supervisory Council will be selected by the Contest Committee under the Parliament. Then, in accordance with the aforementioned quotas, the candidates will be selected and presented to the Parliament, which in turn will confirm each of the trustees by the majority of the list membership. In case the candidate nominated fails not be selected by the majority, another candidate will be then presented to the Parliament within 10 days, and the one that gets more votes, but not less than one third of the Parliament members, will be selected for the Board membership.

GPB Board of Trustees is due to be fully replaced from January 1, 2014. Until then the current composition of the Board will continue its operation. The tenure of Board members will be six years.

According to the Georgian law on Broadcasting Adjara TV-Radio Company shall be formed and established as a legal person of public law under the name of Adjara Public Broadcaster. 

Adjara Public Broadcaster will be having an advisory council to be funded by 15 percent of GPB budget. The funding for GPB itself tends to go up - 0.14 percent of GDP of the previous year.

The amendments to be made to the Georgian Law on Broadcasting have been examined at the parliament since December 21, 2012. The draft also touches upon the launch of Must Carry rules and financial transparency of broadcasters.