Non-Governmental Organizations Call on Rustavi 2 TV Company to Discuss Discrimination Against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Self-Regulatory Body
The Media Development Foundation (MDF), the Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI), the Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI), and theHuman Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) have filed a complaint with the self-regulatory body of Rustavi 2 TV company, requiring that it consider violations of provisions of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters in the program Nanuka’s Show aired on 26 November, in which Jehovah’s Witnesses were discriminated.
The authors of the complaint welcome the fact of Rustavi 2 management apologizing for the incident in the program, which indicates about an accountable approach of the company; however, they note that "it is important to consider this case on the basis of Code of Conduct for Broadcasters within the self-regulation format and to become fully aware of the company’s responsibility in order to prevent such incidents in future from being perceived as accidental mistakes alone and something that independent studios bear responsibility for.”
Since the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters, according to Article 1.3 of the document, shall be observed by a broadcaster, not an outside entity producing content for the broadcaster, the non-governmental organizations recommend Rustavi 2 TV company "to incorporate the obligation to observe requirements of the Code in the contracts entered into with independent studios whom they outsource programs in order to facilitate the efficient implementation of the Code of Conduct and avoid such incidents in future.”
Moreover, the complaint includes other violations of the Code of Conduct:
"Apart from repeated references to Jehovah’s Witnesses in a negative light, the presenter of the program expressed her personal attitude in assessing the change of faith by a guest of the program - which is a matter of individual choice - as a positive development (‘I am afraid of them [Jehovah’s Witnesses]… It is good that you abandoned them’),” the complaint states noting that this is the violation of Article 17.2 of the Code which sets forth requirements for presenters of authored programs.
The authors of the complaint also believe that the program breached the principle of fair treatment (Article 21): "when a respondent uses media for attacking another person or group, the presenter should not only refrain from further inciting negative sentiments and unconditionally agreeing to respondent’s attitudes, but should challenge him/her, especially when it concerns a vulnerable group and even more so, refers to a minor in this context.”
The non-governmental organizations also ask Rustavi 2’s self-regulatory body for considering the breaches of Articles 31, 32 and 33 of the Code of Conduct for Broadcasters, which regulate issues of diversity, equality and tolerance and aim at preventing media from building stereotypes and encouraging intolerance towards people with different identities.