Public Defender’s Statement on Stigma and Discriminatory Attitude in Broadcasting Space

The Public Defender is echoing the events developed around Rustavi 2 TV and talk show "Profile" a few days ago. It should be noted that media outlets often become source of stigmatization, segregation, hate speech and discrimination. Obvious homophobic, sexist and discriminatory tendencies can be observed in some TV programs. A similar incident took place last year in the television show "Talent". This refers to the need of raising awareness of persons employed in the broadcasting area and to the importance of effective functioning of self-regulation mechanisms.

The Public Defender believes that in each case a reasonable balance should be kept between the protection of the rights of certain social groups, protection of the legitimate interests and realization of an individual's free will, his/her personal perception. In certain cases, the advantage should be given to the person’s opportunity to make a free choice. This does not change the approach that the broadcaster must respect human dignity, rights and freedoms, and must not contribute to the reinforcement of stereotypes and stigma.

The Code of Conduct for Broadcasters obliges broadcasting companies to consider the interests of various social groups. Accordingly, they must refrain from publishing any material that might incite intolerance on grounds of sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social group, disability, sexual orientation, etc. Creators of TV programs/shows should observe the principles of fairness, equality and respect when treating potential participants of the programs. The Journalistic Ethics Charter stipulates that journalists must realize the danger of promoting discrimination by the media and must apply all measures to avoid negative consequences/processes.

Clearly, the highly-rated media outlets have a special social impact on the formation of public consciousness. Based on the above, the Public Defender calls on the broadcasting companies and other media outlets to observe the principles of diversity, equality and tolerance during preparation of any program; not to put individuals in degrading situation and to abide by international standards and national legislation.

In turn, the Public Defender, within the framework of the Human Rights Academy, organizes trainings for journalists to deepen their knowledge in human rights and the principles of equality and tolerance. In addition, the Public Defender expresses readiness to carry out a variety of activities in this direction in the future too.

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