Results of Media Monitoring of 2014 Local Government Elections. Monitoring of TV Channels (main news releases) April 15 June 30, PDF

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Results of Media Monitoring of 2014 Local Government Elections Monitoring of TV Channels (main news releases) April 15 June 30, 2014 In connection to the local government elections of 2014, CRRC Georgia
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Results of Media Monitoring of 2014 Local Government Elections Monitoring of TV Channels (main news releases) April 15 June 30, 2014 In connection to the local government elections of 2014, CRRC Georgia implemented the media monitoring within the frameworks of the project Professional Media for Elections, funded by the EU and UNDP. The monitoring started on April 15 and ended on June 30. The monitoring was performed for the main evening news releases on Channel One of the Public Broadcaster, Adjara TV, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Kavkasia and TV3. Within the frameworks of the project Professional Media for Elections, CRRC Georgia monitored the main news releases of TV Channels in 2012 and 2013 as well. There were seven TV channels monitored in 2012 from May 11 until November 30: Channel One of the Public Broadcaster, Rustavi 2, Imedi (until October 17), Maestro, Kavkasia, Channel 9, Real TV (until October 8). The monitoring in 2013 lasted from May 15 until November 30 for the following channels: Channel One of the Public Broadcaster, Adjara TV, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Kavkasia and Channel 9 (until August 18). Key Findings 2014 local government elections were special with its scopes and number of election subjects. Mayors were directly elected in 12 self-governing cities of Georgia and also Gamgebelis were also directly elected in other municipalities for the first time. A large number of election subjects and candidates represented a certain challenge for the media, which had a task of providing sufficient information to the voters for making informed decisions. The monitored TV channels mostly emphasized the Tbilisi candidates in their main evening news releases. In this respect the Adjara TV was an exception where more focus was laid on Batumi mayoral candidates. The news programs actively reported about the election CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 1 campaigns of politicians and candidates, their meetings with population, statements and promises. Some of the channels provided live broadcasts in their news programs, or invited the guests to their studios. In regards to the allocated time, the balance was kept if the major candidates were invited. The candidates had equal opportunities in the news programs to speak to the audience during the election period, inasmuch as the spectrum of political talk shows was pretty diverse other than the news programs, and also there were some programs broadcasted by the TV channels in a form of the debates. Majority of TV channels broadcasted the news programs on the Election Day, which were of different format and longer than usual. These news programs provided detailed reporting about the conduct of elections, violations, exit poll results, evaluations of representatives of various political parties and statements of candidates. There was less polarization observed on the monitored TV channels during the local government elections in Main evening news releases prepared critical stories for the majority of channels not only about the ruling coalition, but also the main opposition parties. However, Rustavi 2 marked with more negative attitude towards the government as compared to other channels. There were some stories observed on TV3 during some monitoring sections, which were prepared in the negative context for the United National Movement. In regards to the polarization, the monitoring results for TV channels during the local elections were not very different from the period of presidential elections in News releases of the monitored channels were not openly biased to any political force in The situation was clearly different form the pre-election period during the parliamentary elections in 2012, when three out of the six monitored channels (Rustavi 2, Imedi, Real TV) were focused on positive presentation of the former authorities and negative presentation of Bidzina Ivanishvili and the Georgian Dream, but two channels (Maestro and Channel 9) covered the United National Movement and the former authorities in a critical and negative light. As the result of polarization, it was frequent to see one and the same facts and events covered differently by different channels in In some cases this difference was so big that it was difficult for the audience to learn the truth. In 2012, the most evident examples of this were the spread of videos about torturing the inmates at prisons in September and the visit of Saakashvili and Ivanishvili in Beshumi in August. These cases decreased in 2013, but did not disappear completely (issues about removal of the Bagrati Temple from the UNESCO world heritage list, and the purchase of two French helicopters by the former CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 2 authorities). Different coverage of the events of 2014 became even more rare (incident in Gardabani at the end of May). Alongside with the decreased polarization, the coverage of key subjects in negative tone decreased since Besides, the negative tone was observed in regards to all the key subjects, and there was hardly any particular subject that would stand out in this respect. There was more positive tone observed towards the subjects, especially towards the election subjects during the election periods in 2013 and It is noteworthy that compared to other key subjects, there was quite high rate of positive tone observed for the Prime Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili in the monitoring results of 2014, despite the fact that he was not found among the top three subjects according to the allocated time. Coverage of the Prime Minister was mostly related to the topics on foreign policy of the country. During the elections in 2014, the TV companies had an analytical approach while covering the key topics of current significance. There was extensive and detailed information broadcasted about the issues discussed in the stories, diverse sides were represented, including the representatives of various political forces, also the experts as well. During the three waves of monitoring, the lack of analysis was most evident in 2012 among the news releases on TV channels. Number of analytical stories increased in 2013, and the increasing trend was maintained in 2014 as well. It is noteworthy that we did not observe gross violations of journalistic standards during the monitoring in 2014, such as hate speech and manipulation with pictures and music. Compared to 2012, when these violations were reported in the stories of several channels, the situation has improved significantly in the main evening news releases on TV channels during the local government elections. This report provides the monitoring results per each channel. Channel One of the Public Broadcaster Main evening news releases of the Channel One of the Public Broadcaster were quite balanced and neutral during the whole monitoring period (April 15, June 30). These stories provided different positions regarding the covered issues. Majority of these stories contained the opinions of the government, the opposition and the experts as well; however, there were some cases during the elections, when the particular parties were speaking about pressure, but the position of the other side was not represented. The main news releases CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 3 often were made of extensive and analytical stories, which provided detailed information to the audience about a particular topic. It was visible that the journalists were trying to report the news in a neutral way, regardless their political significance, or the negative or positive contents. Main news releases of the Channel One provided active coverage for all the important events, which took place during this period. The issues such as: the antidiscrimination law, supervisory board of the Public Broadcaster and the events developed in Ukraine, were reported with special intensity since April. During the whole monitoring period, the Association Agreement and the related stories were often reported. The draft law on defense and the law on public service were covered broadly and in details. The stories provided exhaustive information and provided clarification about the contents of the laws, their subjects and the relevance of draft law on defense with the Constitution, etc. There were quite extensive and informative stories prepared about the visits of foreign politicians in Georgia. Besides, court trials of the members of former authorities were quite intensively covered as well. The election process was highlighted in details on June 15, with live broadcasts from the offices of various parties, their evaluations about the conduct of the elections and its results. They showed how the party leaders voted, and also gave pictures of various electoral districts, where the election results was appealed, or where the violations or confrontations took place. The news release on June 16 was almost completely focused on the elections. They showed the details about who got how many votes in which district, where the second round would be expected, and what evaluations the politicians made. After the elections, during June 16-30, inclusive, main evening news releases of the Channel One of the Public Broadcaster continued their usual programs. The emphasis was laid on the election results, but the current news was also covered in analytical stories. As for the time allocated to the subjects, in total, 19 hours and 19 minutes were dedicated to them during the election period April 15 until June 14, inclusive (and 24 hours and 32 minutes from April 15 until June 30, inclusive). There were 3 key subjects identified on the Channel One during the election period, to whom the most time was allocated than all the other subjects. These were: the government 24%, the United National Movement 22%, and the Coalition Georgian Dream 18%. Other monitored subjects got 9 percent of total time, or less. The above-mentioned 3 subjects had almost equal shares of positive tone (government 16%, the National Movement -19%, and the Coalition Georgian Dream 20%). Other subjects, to whom less time was allocated, had quite high rate of positive tone, and this rate is more than 39 percent for each of them, which is caused mostly by their coverage with direct speech. CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 4 As for the coverage of mayoral candidates, here the most time was allocated to the Tbilisi candidates during the whole monitoring period 2 hours and 59 minutes in total. During the election period, the live air was dedicated to the mayoral candidates in the studio in main evening news program of the Channel One on Saturdays. As the elections got closer, the candidate coverage gradually intensified. The main focus was targeted on their election campaigns not only in Tbilisi, but also in other self-governing cities. There was even more emphasis laid on this topic in the weekend programs. There were live broadcasts in the format of talk shows, also stories about the mayoral candidates of various self-governing cities. Besides, their election meetings were covered as well. Out of Tbilisi candidates, the most time were dedicated to the following four subjects: Nika Melia 18%, Dimitri Lortkipanidze and Kakha Kukava 16-16%, and Davit Narmania - 15%. There was quite high rate of positive tone observed towards all the candidates, but the highest rate was observed in case of Nika Melia 77% and Davit Narmania 72%. It is noteworthy that in fact almost none of the candidates were covered with negative tone. Only Dimitri Lortkipanidze and Davit Narmania both got one percent of negative coverage. CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 5 Compared to previous periods, quite little time was dedicated to them after the elections in total 12 minutes. Out of this time, 6 minutes were allocated to Davit Narmania, 3 minutes Nika Melia, and one minute to each of the remaining candidates. As for the top-two candidates, they have quite equal shares of positive tone: Davit Narmania 33 percent, and Nika Melia 30 percent. Adjara TV Main news releases of Adjara TV were mostly balanced and objective during the monitoring period. The parties presented in the stories had different positions. The journalists tried not to use judgmental vocabulary and to shift focus to the happenings. There was a lack of analytical stories observed in the main evening news releases on Adjara TV, but as the elections got closer, the number of analytical stories increased. Adjara TV had extensive reports about the local issues: social problems of the population of Adjara, infrastructure projects and environmental problems. There was a trend observed: the journalists would follow up the development of topical issues during the whole week and keep the viewers updated about subsequent news. CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 6 As the elections got closer, the political parties and their election programs had more and more coverage. There were frequent stories about the election promises and goals of particular candidates. While covering the election topics, the political subjects were selected in a balanced way. Other than the stories about main political subjects, the Adjara TV also covered the representatives of other political forces and independent candidates as well. Adjara TV provided detailed coverage of the events taking place throughout the Autonomous Republic of Adjara on the Election Day, also the conduct of elections and observed violations. Performance and decisions of Sakrebulo of previous convocation were summarized. There was much time allocated to the second round appointed in some of the constituencies form June 16 until June 30, inclusive, also to the distribution of seats in the Sakrebulos of new convocation. In total 19 minutes and 58 seconds were allocated to the monitoring subjects during the monitoring period. The most time was dedicated to the two political forces the Coalition Georgian Dream (26%) and the United National Movement (20%) during the election period (April 15 June 14). Significant portion of time was dedicated to the government (11%), the government of the Adjarian Autonomous Republic (10%) and the Prime Minister (8%). The Coalition Georgian Dream and the United National Movement have almost equal shares of positive and negative tones. Among the most often covered subjects, the highest rate of positive tone was reported for the Prime Minister 65%. As for the negative tone, in this respect the government had the highest rate 15%. CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 7 The number of stories on election topics decreased after the elections (June 15 June 30), which found its reflection on the reduced rate of positive tone. Despite this, the trends of subject coverage remain the same according to the allocated time. As for the coverage of mayoral candidates, the most often coverage was observed for the data about candidates from Batumi during the period from April 15 until June 30 in total 1 hour and 53 minutes. The most time was allocated to Giorgi Ermakov (44%), representative of the Coalition Georgian Dream and Giorgi Diasamidze (19%), candidate of the National Movement during the election period. It is noteworthy that unlike other channels, there is quite much time allocated to the other mayoral candidates as well 19% of the total time. The candidates were mostly presented in a positive light during the coverage of election campaigns. It is noteworthy that one of the candidates was covered with negative tone except for Giorgi Ermakov, who got 6 percent of negative tone out of the total time dedicated to him. Coverage of mayoral candidates continued after the elections were over. However, the emphasis was laid on the candidates who made it to the second round Giorgi Ermakov and Giorgi Diasamidze. CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 8 Rustavi 2 News releases on Rustavi 2 provided detailed coverage of topical issues during the monitoring period from April 15 until June 30. The balance among the respondents was observed, representing the comments of members of various parties and political unions, also opinions of exerts and NGO representatives. The stories often would start with disseminating information and detailed about the covered issue, which made the contents of the story more understandable to the views. Last part of news programs used to be dedicated to a political talk show on Fridays on Rustavi 2, where the invited guests were talking about the topical and important issues. The stories mostly laid emphasis on the government, the Coalition Georgian Dream and the United National Movement. Despite the government members were represented positively in some stories, there were also some critical stories about the government and the authorities, the number of which increased as the pre-election tension grew. Sequence of stories and the emphases laid in these stories, in general, often portrayed the government and members of the majority negatively, but on the other hand, the United National Movement and their activities were quite intensively covered in the positive context. Rustavi 2 regularly covered the election period and laid main emphasis on the influence exercised against opposition candidates. There was much time dedicated to the confrontations between the activist of the National Movement and the Georgian Dream in Gardabani, Marneuli and Rustavi. The same context was present while reporting about the elections. The stories on elections often portrayed the government and the Coalition Georgian Dream in negative light, focusing on violations and rigging the elections, also on influencing the CEC by the government. During the period from April 15 until June 30, the subjects were covered for almost 27 hours. During the election period (April 15 June 14), most part of the time was dedicated to the United National Movement (30%), the government (24%), the Coalition Georgian Dream (22%) and the Prime Minister (10%). It is noteworthy that the highest rates of positive and negative tones were observed for the Prime Minister (27% and 21%) out of the most frequently covered subjects. It is also noteworthy that 20% of the time dedicated to the government was covered in negative tone. The most frequently covered subjects did not change after the elections, but relatively higher rates of negative tone were again reported for the representatives of the government and the Coalition Georgian Dream. CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 9 As for the time allocated to the mayoral candidates, it was Tbilisi mayoral candidates who were most frequently highlighted by the Rustavi 2 during the monitoring period. In total, about 1 hour and 10 minutes were allocated to them. The most time was dedicated to three candidates during the election period (April 15 June 14): Davit Narmania (25%), Nika Melia (24%), and Dimitri Lortkipanidze (24%). The rate of positive tone is quite high in case of Davit Narmania (64%) and Nika Melia (71%), whereas only 23% of Dimitri Lortkipanidze s time was covered with positive tone. Besides, Dimitri Lortkipanidze had the highest rates of negative tone (7%). The situation changed at some extent after the elections and the positive tone decreased for all the mayoral candidates. CRRC Election Media Monitoring (April 15-30, 2014) 10 Imedi During the monitoring period in 2014, main news programs of Imedi mostly broadcasted balanced and impartial stories. There were several extensive and analytical stories at the beginning of the program. Many topics were highlighted exhaustively and the viewers got comprehensive information about the discussed issue. Opinions of the position, the opposition and experts were represented. Imedi allocated quite much time to the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union. In Several analytical stories were prepared about this topic. On the signature day, Jun
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