A regular Georgian uses multiple sources to get news and information about their country, but not all sources are equal in terms of usage and accessibility.
Georgian Public Broadcast is the oldest media outlet in the country, with radio programs dating back to 1925 and their first TV program airing in 1956. Newspapers, of course, have an even longer history. The internet became available about 20 years ago, and now around half of the population regularly surfs the web (in Tbilisi, 77% of the population is connected to the internet).
Based on a recent nationwide opinion survey, television is predominantly the most frequently used media among adult Georgians; this has held true since GORBI’s first opinion polls in 1990. Thanks to the prevalence of social media, internet has become the second most used media, squeezing out newspaper and radio outlets that held significant public attention not long ago. Even with new sources of media information, personal networks (friends and family) remain an important source of information for most people in Georgia.
Traditional media has suffered significantly in the last 10 years, but this is especially true for print media – as print circulation drops dramatically, so does advertisement revenue and a newspaper’s ability to stay afloat.
Table 1: Usage of Various Media by Demographic (%)
Source: Imedi TV pre election survey, September 2016
Across various demographics, these media outlets have different usage patterns. While internet usage news consumption is clearly popular among young, educated, employed, and urban dwellers, newspapers appear to be more popular among elderly citizens who are employed and have only a high school degree.
Based on the same opinion poll, the most frequently watched television stations for the news are Imedi and Rustavi 2, with a general viewership of 71% and 65% respectively. Maestro TV holds the third position, followed by Georgian Public Broadcaster and the GDS television station.
Chart 2: Q. Which television stations do you watch at least several times a week for news and information? (%)
Source: Imedi TV pre-election survey, September 2016
Media consumption trends like this are not isolated to Georgia. Internet and television are consistently dominating media markets in countries all over the world In Georgia, the develop of 4G and other GSM technology, the dropping prices of smartphones, and government initiatives to install fiber optic cables throughout rural areas will only push Georgia’s internet penetration and media literacy forward. However, it’s important to understand the increase of media availability does not necessarily precipitate an increase in media quality or integrity, at least in terms of media content published in Georgian. This is dependent not on infrastructure, but on a public demand for quality ethical journalism, which is itself dependent on a broad public understanding of what that entails. Social media has the potential to both police and proliferate unethical journalism if it is left unchecked and unchallenged. As our media access grows, so must of our knowledge of how to interact with and question it.
GORBI is a regional hub for partner organizations and international clients. Since 2003, GORBI remains an exclusive member of Gallup International research network for its two decades of experience in survey research in post-Soviet Union countries, as well as Mongolia and Iraq. This data was provided exclusively to the Financial.