Media Ownership and Advertising Market Turnover in Georgia

Anna Barseghyan


Television remains the primary source of news and information for the majority of Georgia’s population (nine out of ten inhabitants).

There are 36 terrestrial broadcasting TV channels with national, regional, and capital coverage in this country of 4.5 million. Broadcasting licenses are granted by the Georgian National Communication Commission on a competitive basis and for a 10-year period.

After amendments to the law in 2011, granting broadcasting licenses to companies registered abroad (offshore) is prohibited. In addition, TV companies are required under the law to make information about their owners and revenues public and to have a code of conduct and self-regulatory mechanisms. 

As a result of these amendments, there have been many improvements in recent years in terms of political control over the media, as well as transparency of media ownership. This information is public and available to everyone.

Several media outlets belong to businessmen who have or had some ties with either the ruling Georgian Dream coalition or the current opposition United National Movement.

One of the owners of one of Georgia’s most influential TV companies, Rustavi 2, is Levan Karamanishvili, who also has shares in mobile operator Beeline and also owns internet provider Caucasus Online.

The second most influential company in the television market, Imedi, is owned by businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili‘s family, which also is a shareholder in several major companies in Georgia, including mobile operator Magticom, Borjomi mineral water, and Mtatsminda amusement park

Former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s son Bera owns an entertaining station GDS (Georgian Dream Studio). Ivanishvili himself has a number of offshore companies registered in his relatives’ names. 

Iberia TV company owner Zaza Okuashvili is the founder of Omega Group, which produces and distributes cigarettes and is also BMW’s official representative in Georgia. 

One of Tabula TV company’s owners is businessmen Kakha Bendukidze, while Vasil Kobaidze owns the majority of shares in Pirveli Stereo TV company. 

Several companies own more than one media outlet: Rustavi 2 operates the Comedy TV entertainment channel, and TV companies Imedi and Maestro also own radio stations. 

Palitra Media Holding owns a TV channel, a radio station, and dozens of magazines, newspapers, and websites. 

Radio Sakartvelo radio holding owns four national radio stations (Ar Daidardo, Fortuna, Fortuna +, and Avtoradio). The same family owns music channel Music Box.

TV companies get the lion’s share of media advertising.

Transparency International Georgia estimates that total advertising spending in 2012 was around $54 million USD, 72% of which went to television. 

Approximately 11% of advertising spending went to outdoor advertising, closely followed by radio (10%). Print media received approximately 5% of advertising spending, and though internet advertising is growing, only $1.2 million was spent in this area in 2012, accounting for about 2% of Georgian advertising spending overall.

According to June 2014 data, 75% of total broadcasting revenue falls on two TV companies — Rustavi 2 and Imedi. 

In the fourth quarter of 2013, Rustavi 2 had a revenue of 15.2 million GEL ($8.7 million USD, or 49% of all broadcasting revenue), while Imedi TV and Imedi Radio had 8.5 million GEL ($4.8 million USD, or 26% of the entire revenues). Overall, 56 TV and radio companies had a revenue of 30.85 million GEL ($17 million USD).

After the two leading TV companies with national coverage, Rustavi 2 and Imedia, the third largest broadcaster is Maestro, with a revenue of 2.5 million GEL ($1.4 million USD), followed by Radio Sakartvelo, with a revenue of 1 million GEL ($574 thousand USD). 

Anna Barseghyan

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