After years of sidestepping criticism on the topic, Georgia’s governing United National Movement is preparing to tighten media ownership regulations. Tbilisi’s chief intent is to ban “offshore” ownership of Georgian media outlets. But media analysts warn that the draft law under consideration stops short of real measures to make broadcast media operations more transparent and accountable to the public.
The proposed changes would have the most immediate impact on the country’s most influential national broadcaster, the privately owned, pro-government Rustavi2. Seventy percent of Rustavi2 is held by the offshore company Degson Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands.
The planned changes could also raise further questions about the ownership of another pro-government station, Imedi TV, formerly partnered with the News Corporation media empire. Ninety percent of the station’s shares are now owned by RAAK Georgia Holding, a company registered in Georgia, but about which close to nothing is known.
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Molly Corso is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.