According to the latest data available from the Georgian National Communications Commission for 2016, there are 38 radio broadcasters. Most offer general programming, followed by niche (sports, business) and community-oriented content. Most radio stations broadcast from Tbilisi while 14 radio stations operate in the regions. Leading Tbilisi-based stations include: Fortuna, Fortuna Plus, Ar Daidardo, Avtoradio (all four are part of Fortuna Radio Holding, a market leader by income), Imedi (second by profits), Maestro, Jako (sports radio), Shokoladi, Abkhazetis Khma, Palitra Radio. While precise data on audience share is not available, these stations have stable audiences and offer a mix of news, talk, music and entertainment.
Most airtime is filled by music and entertainment, but radios licensed for general programming offer at least two information programs. This is in tune with the global trend of an increase in entertainment content over more traditional news stories. Radios are rarely used for serious, public affairs content; Georgians polled by NDI annually between 2011 and 2017 have not once mentioned radio as their first source of news and public affairs content, and the share of those using radio as a secondary source has fluctuated between 1 percent and 3 percent.
In recent years a positive development has been the strengthening of regional radios, such as Dzveli Kalaki and Imeri (Kutaisi), Trialeti (Gori) Hereti (Lagodekhi), Samkhretis Karibche (Akhaltsikhe), Harmonia (Poti), Atinati and Odishi (Zugdidi), and the establishment of community radios. Community-based radios such as Nor (Armenian language, broadcasts from Akhaltsikhe) and Marneuli (Azerbaijani language, broadcasts from Marneuli) were established in 2006, but the previous government refused to grant them radio licenses. For this reason, the community radios produced a website and broadcasted via loudspeaker. The licenses for FM broadcasting were granted in 2014. The Azerbaijani-language community in the village of Iormughalo can now tune to recently-launched Radio Ivrisi. Community radio Radio Way opened in the Pankisi Gorge for the Vainakh minority in 2015. The Armenian-language community can also tune to Vrastan FM. Local communities in the regions are also served by Radio Mozaika in Gori. Some radios, such as Dzveli Kalaki, Radioway, Hereti, Nor, Marneuli offer both on-air and original content on their websites.
Soviet-era state radio was transformed into public radio, and is now part of the GPB. GPB operates two radio channels: Sakartvelos Radio – Pirveli Radio and Radio Ori – Kartuli Radio. Sakartvelos Radio broadcasts nationwide with news and various programmes.
The demand for niche programming is met by classic, jazz, rock and folk music stations as well as stations with sports and business news. Listeners can tune in to re-broadcasts of America’s National Public Radio on Radio GIPA. Georgia does not have a 24-hour talk radio station except for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which fills the niche with locally produced news and analysis. GPB’s Radio Pirveli Arkhi (channel 1) also devotes most airtime to news and opinion programs.
Advertising income in the radio sector is US$12.2m, based on the 2016 Annual Report by the Georgian National Communication Commission (GNCC). According to the report, the income has grown by 50 percent since 2010. More than two thirds of the total advertising went to four broadcasters - Radio Holding Fortuna, Imedi Radio, Radio Jako and Radio GreenWave. While the remaining market is not big enough to sustain high-quality, diverse programming and innovation, it is sufficient for low-cost operations. Regional stations supplement their income with grants from international donors.
The global trend for increased Internet consumption have affected the Georgian radio sector as well. Radio stations acquired websites and streaming services. Some radios, such as Dzveli Kalaki, Radioway, Hereti, Nor, Marneuli offer both on-air and original content on their websites. A few, most notably, RFE/RL, started producing podcasts and blogs as well as video content. Broadcasting through specific apps (Georgian Radio Live, Radio Georgian) is also available. A positive trend has been the establishment of online only radios, targeting the youth. These radios are: MTC Youth Radio, Helping Hand Radio (associated with association Helping Hands), CSJM Radio (associated with the Caucasus School of Media at the Caucasus University).