Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says the resignation of a Georgian regional public TV channel's deputy director this week is the latest example of "political pressure" undermining media pluralism and free speech in the South Caucasus country.
On February 2, Natia Zoidze announced her resignation from Ajara TV, based in the Black Sea port city of Batumi, saying it was the result of a "political process."
She had accused the TV channel's new director, Georgi Kokhreidze, of applying pressure for a change in editorial policies.
Zoidze's resignation is "indicative of the growing political pressure on state-owned media in Georgia," Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF's Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement on February 5.
Meanwhile, "government allies are increasingly getting control of critical or independent media," said Cavelier, who called on the Georgian authorities to guarantee media independence and pluralism in the run-up to the October parliamentary elections.
Georgia's TV channels suffer from "politically biased government measures," according to the Paris-based media-freedom watchdog.
It cited the case of a popular opposition TV station, Rustavi-2, which "turned into the government's mouthpiece" following a change in ownership last year.
The change led to the departure of most of Rustavi-2's staff. Director-General Nika Gvaramia has been fired and prosecuted on a charge of "abuse of power."
Georgia is ranked 60th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2019 World Press Freedom Index.