Georgia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Georgia

Georgia

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

54

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

23

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

15

Freedom of speech and the press is legally protected under the constitution and media legislation, and censorship is prohibited. The country's independent media frequently produce reports critical of the government and conduct investigations into allegations of official corruption. However, the authorities at times have used threats or violence to intimidate journalists investigating corruption and other sensitive subjects, and criminal libel laws encourage some self-censorship. The state has also failed to protect journalists from attack by non-state actors, including followers of the radical defrocked Georgian Orthodox priest, Basili Mkalavishvili. The independent radio station Dzveli Kalaki has been the repeated target of verbal and physical harassment by Mkalavishvili's supporters, who opposed one of the station's programs about Georgia's Catholic minority. The popular independent television station Rustavi-2 has for years endured threats, attacks, and numerous libel lawsuits for reporting on politically sensitive issues such as government corruption. In 2003, the head of the Georgian Railway won a libel suit against the station for information in a program linking him to bribery scandals. In July, a former police officer was sentenced to prison for the 2001 murder of Rustavi-2 journalist Georgi Sanaya. His wife and colleagues maintain that his killing was politically motivated because of his investigations into government corruption and that those who masterminded his murder remain unpunished. Rustavi-2 gave extensive coverage to reports of voter fraud in the November 2003 election and the subsequent mass protests that led to President Eduard Shevardnadze's resignation. The government finances and controls the main television and radio networks, which generally reflect official viewpoints. Independent broadcast media often must depend on local officials and businesspeople for financial support and are subject to their editorial influence. The independent sector dominates the country's press, which struggles financially because of widespread poverty, inadequate advertising revenues, and low circulation. As a consequence, many newspapers are subsidized by and subject to the influence of their patrons in business and politics.