TBILISI, DFWatch--A New Year’s commercial in Georgia has caused controversy for showing Santa Claus being murdered in front of a child. Now, the Public Defender calls on the advertisement company to stop airing the ad. The video (16+) ‘Santa
TBILISI, DFWatch--The supervisory board of Georgia’s Public Broadcaster (GPB) on Thursday selected as new director a candidate with close ties to the ruling party and personal links to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. The decision to appoint Vasil Maglaperidze
TBILISI, DFWatch--One of Georgia's largest TV channels confirmed on Tuesday that it has successfully concluded negotiations to merge with two other channels that are linked to former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili. Maestro TV was a voice of independent journalism
TBILISI, DFWatch--The trustee of a village in eastern Georgia has resigned after admitting that he hit a journalist in the face. The journalist, Gela Mtivlishvili, had showed up at a stretch of road where asphalt was being laid down in pouring rain in anticipation of a visit by
TBILISI, DFWatch--A former Georgian defense minister has revealed the existence of a contract which appears to invalidate the takeover of one of the main TV stations in the country, as the Supreme Court is considering the case. The city court in Tbilisi decided in November
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili claims the media in his country are publishing more anti-Western stories now than they used to. In an interview with the program ‘Archevani’ on Rustavi 2 TV Tuesday evening, he said it was
TBILISI, DFWatch--The head of the news division at Imedi TV was unexpectedly replaced on Thursday. News chief Maia Tabagari was moved to a post as consultant to the general director, while journalist Nino Lezhava (pictured) was brought in as her replacement,
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Appeals Court in Georgia upheld a decision by Tbilisi City Court to transfer ownership of the largest opposition TV station, Rustavi 2, to Kibar Khalvashi, a former owner. Khalvashi successfully sued claiming that Rustavi 2 was forcibly
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia took the 96th place among the world’s 199 countries and regions evaluated in the latest edition of the Freedom of the Press report prepared annually by Freedom House. Georgia earned the highest score of 49 points
TBILISI, DFWatch--Despite the relative rise in the ranking to the 64th place, the highest place in the region, Georgia’s score slightly declined. Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF), a France-based international organization, issued the
TBILISI, DFWatch--Agreement was reached on Monday between the owners of Maestro TV to allow the channel to continue using its logo, settling a several months long dispute. The agreement was announced in a statement by Gia Gachechiladze (‘Utsnobi’), who owns
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Public Registry on Monday registered Levan Gachechiladze as director of Studio Maestro. The registry said in a statement that Gachechiladze was appointed director of Maestro as a result of a decision made by the Appeals Court on March 1.
Tbilisi, DFWatch - Georgian experts focus on security aspects of countering Russian propaganda in the debate on reviving a Russian-language TV channel. An initiative to create a Russian-language TV channel in Georgia was voiced by Paata Zakareishvili, minister of reintegration and civic equality, during the cabinet meeting on 11 February, Novosti Gruziya reported.
TBILISI, DFWatch--A TV host on the Georgian Public Broadcaster says she was fired without explanation and plans to sue her employer. Eka Mishveladze, one of the hosts on Channel 1, says her open-ended contract was terminated with no explanation and she
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian TV company Maestro has been taken over by two brothers, one a rock singer and the other a former presidential candidate, but staff won’t let them into the building. Maestro’s majority owner is now Giorgi Gachechiladze, a rock singer
TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Thursday restored the status of the managers of TV channel Rustavi 2, including its director general, and abolished the status of one of the interim managers. The background is a ruling by the city court earlier this year
TBILISI, DFWatch--The feud over the ownership of Georgia’s most powerful anti-government television channel became even more obscure Wednesday evening, as the Public Registry denied having registered a document appointing a new manager of Rustavi 2.
TBILISI, DFWatch--The interim owners of Georgia’s largest anti-government TV channel have appointed the anchor Zaal Udumashvili as new manager, but he rejected the job. The failed attempt to appoint a new manager follows several months of legal
TBILISI, DFWatch--The interim owners of the largest opposition-aligned TV station in Georgia, Rustavi 2, claim that they are not planning to break into the office of the company with the help of police. But they haven’t specified when they are planning to show up at the premises.
TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court Thursday evening dismissed Rustavi 2's CEO and appointed two persons to run Georgia’s largest TV company until the end of a lawsuit that will decide its ownership. The ruling of the judge, Tamaz Urtmelidze, reads
TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court ruled Tuesday to transfer ownership of one of Georgia’s largest TV channels to a businessman whom the opposition believes is acting on orders from the government. The court decided that 100 percent of shares in Rustavi 2, a TV channel sympathetic to the National Movement,
TBILISI, DFWatch--A violent takeover of the embattled Georgian television station Rustavi 2 has apparently been averted, as the Constitutional Court decided to review a case filed in a lower court about the suspension of the government’s power to immediately enforce a court ruling.
TBILISI, DFWatch--Trial over ownership of Rustavi 2 was postponed for Friday, amid eerie predictions of its director that the riot police has been put on alert in order to forcibly take over Georgia’s main opposition-leaning TV channel. Nika Gvaramia,
TBILISI, DFWatch--The lawsuit about the ownership of an opposition television channel resumed in the city court in Tbilisi on Monday. The judge ordered Rustavi 2’s lawyers to present an estimate of expected losses after the court ordered the seizure of the company’s property.
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office Thursday evening named the person who allegedly passed on messages from the government to the director of a television company. Rustavi 2 director Nika Gvaramia said Wednesday that
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Prosecutor General’s Office has launched an investigation prompted by a live TV speech on Wednesday in which the director of Rustavi 2 claimed he was blackmailed. According to the short statement by the Prosecutor General’s
TBILISI, DFWatch--A day before Tbilisi City Court is to announce a ruling in a lawsuit about Rustavi 2, the director of the TV company went on the air to tell viewers that he was threatened by representatives of the government. Instead of the ordinary news program
TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Thursday ordered the seizure of the shares in the company that owns the television channel Rustavi 2. The court ordered the seizure of all shares in TV Sakartvelo, which holds 51 percent of the shares in Rustavi 2. The latter
Tbilisi, DFWatch - The fourth weekly political TV programme may be cancelled on Georgia, as the Public Broadcaster (GPB) may suspend Pirveli Studia (“First Studio”), soon after announcement of marriage of its hostess with the Secretary General of opposition political party.
TBILISI, DFWatch--One more talk show has been taken off air in Georgia. The Sunday evening program ‘Kviris 2030’, which has been a venue for views close to former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, will end in September, producer Vasil Maglapheridze said on Tuesday.
TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian TV company on Sunday announced that it will suspend two popular political talk shows ‘temporarily’ until 2016, promising to change their format and offer viewers ‘a new product.’ Imedi’s decision was met with a negative response from viewers.
TBILISI, DFWatch--The owners of Rustavi 2 fear that the seizure of the TV company’s property may cause it to go bankrupt. The court ordered the seizure of Rustavi 2’s property more than a week ago on the grounds of a lawsuit by its former owner Kibar Khalvashi.
TBILISI, DFWatch--Tbilisi City Court on Monday allowed a lawsuit against the TV company Rustavi 2 to proceed. Rustavi 2’s lawyer claims that the lawsuit has no legal basis. The case was filed by the businessman Kibar Khalvashi, who was once
TBILISI, DFWatch--Two hosts on the TV channel Imedi accuse the government of trying to put pressure on them, while the company’s management distances themselves from the statements made by their own journalists.
TBILISI, DFWatch--Press freedom has been improved in Georgia, judging by the latest annual index published by Reporters Without Borders. The country has moved up 15 places and is number 69 among 180 countries. The last time Georgia listed this high was
TBILISI, DFWatch--Many employees left their jobs at a Georgian TV station on Monday, as a protest against what they say is interference with the independence of their news reporting. Nino Zhizhilashvili was fired from her position as head of Maestro’s news
TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s talk show will not go on air until February at the earliest. the businessman who dedicated himself to strengthening civil society after retiring from politics announced his plans for a talk show
TBILISI, DFWatch--Former Georgian prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says he wants to host a weekly talk show. This comes after Ivanishvili many times has criticized Georgian media for bias and lack of professionalism. The new talk show is one of two projects presented
TBILISI, DFWatch--A lawmaker from the National Movement wants to ban Russian news channels in Georgia. Giorgi Baramidze floated the idea in a Facebook post last Saturday, but has not yet decided whether to make a formal proposal. Baramidze later explained
TBILISI, DFWatch--The Georgian government has criticized a TV program for being biased, after it turned the spotlight on promises made by the government in the 2012 election campaign. The target of the government’s criticism is a program on Maestro TV called
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s National Communications Commission (GNCC) has elected Vakhtang Abashidze as new chairman. This is the first time a head of GNCC has been elected. Abshidze, the only candidate, received the support of all five commission members. During
TBILISI, DFWatch--A Georgian TV company accuses the government of wiretapping and spying on its management and journalists. The accusations were put forth on Tuesday by Nika Gvaramia, director of Rustavi 2, the last major TV channel that remains faithful to former
TBILISI, DFWatch--The 27 candidates for the Board of Trustees of Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) will be interviewed live on GPB's Channel 2 Wednesday and Thursday. After going through a round of interviews, a shortlist of 15 candidates will be sent to parliament,
TBILISI, DFWatch--A non-governmental organization founded by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is to offer training courses for journalists who work for Georgian media outlets. In a statement on Monday, the organization, called Citizen, explained the
TBILISI, DFWatch--A parliamentary commission in Georgia has exposed how one television station was operating for years without a license during Saakashvili. The channel, Alania, was found to have close links to the government while Saakashvili was in power and though
TBILISI, DFWatch--A member of parliament from the National Movement party was fined 50 000 lari (USD 30 000) on Monday for defamation of businessman Joseph Kay. Kay is the investor who took over the control of Imedi TV after the owner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, died
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia tops a new survey of media freedom among those eastern European countries that are not members of EU but associated through the Eastern Partnership. The report is called Media Freedom Index in Eastern Partners Countries and was presented in Moldova
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia’s Public Broadcaster has dismissed Channel 1 talk show hosts Eka Kvesitadze and Davit Paichadze. The two journalists claimed at a press conference on Wednesday that their dismissal, which they learned about the day before, was politically
TBILISI, DFWatch--Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says journalists and employees of TV9 made a mistake when they closed down the channel immediately after his statement. “Journalists didn't come to TV9 from BBC and CNN. Many of them weren't professionals; [they]
TBILISI, DFWatch--Several persons have already expressed interest in buying Georgia's Channel 9, which yesterday stopped functioning. The TV station's director Luba Eliashvili said to employees gathered outside its office building that several persons already have
TBILISI, DFWatch--TV9, a channel affiliated with Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, went off air on Monday. It had earelier announced that it would close on September 1. The news program at 21:00 was its final broadcast, with News Director Luba Eliashvili saying goodbye
TBILISI, DFWatch--Channel 9, a TV company affiliated with Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, is to be closed from September 1. Luba Eliashvili, chairman of the TV company's news division, explained that for the last ten months they have been looking for new owners
TBILISI, DFWatch--A conference on digital media was held in Tbilisi May 23-24 to discuss the transition to digital TV, good and bad examples from other countries and positive and negative sides of the process. Media experts from Estonia, Lithuania, UK, Moldova, Russia,
TBILISI, DFWatch--Georgia climbs 15 places on Freedom House’s latest list of press freedom around the world. On the list Freedom of the Press 2013, Georgia is listed as partly free in 96th place with 49 points, up from 111th place and 52 points the year before.
Tbilisi, DFWatch - OSCE supports a draft law to reform Georgia's public broadcaster, but has some critical remarks. The organization's media freedom representative, Dunja Mijatović, thinks the amendments of the law on broadcasting can provide for pluralism and transparency
TBILISI, DFWatch--The supervisory board of Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) has dismissed the company's chairman because he fired the news chief, allegedly for political reasons. After the change of government in Georgia, TV channels have gone through a period of
TBILISI, DFWatch -- The supervisory board of Georgia’s Public Broadcaster Wednesday elected a new director as replacement for Giorgi Chanturia, who unexpectedly resigned almost two weeks ago. The board chose Giorgi Baratashvili, who has a background from different
TBILISI, DFWatch -- The Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili has decided to finance media and non-government organizations and issued a special decree December 17, 2012. A program to contribute to the civil sector and development of free media will
TBILISI, DFWatch -- A handful of media experts are calling for legislative reforms to address problems with media freedom in Georgia, and have prepared a draft bill as a first step. The bill would amend the law on broadcasting, and was presented by its authors
TBILISI, DFWatch -- A TV company affiliated with the governing Georgian Dream coalition is going to become a general broadcaster. Thursday morning it became known that TV 9 will become a general broadcaster, which means that it will have the right to broadcast
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili claims he is ready to give his TV channel to Georgian Public Broadcaster or transform it into a public broadcaster. He will even finance it for next 20 years with no strings attached. TV 9 was set up about ten
TBILISI, DFWatch -- A new report shows that Georgian TV companies have problems with bringing balanced and objective information. Channel 9, which belongs to Prime Minister Bidizna Ivanishvili, is now positive to the new government, but before the election
TBILISI, DFWatch -- A former owner of a Georgian TV station claims that he was forced to sell it by the former government. TV Mze (which in Georgian means 'Sun') was launched by millionaire Vano Chkhartishvili, a member of parliament before the Rose Revolution in 2003
TBILISI, DFWatch -- A TV channel controlled by the former Saakashvili’s government on Wednesday got a new director, who used to be former government official. Rustavi 2 is considered to have played a major role during the Rose Revolution in 2003 and used to be
TBILISI, DFWatch -- A former editor of Forbes Georgia has been appointed as new director of Imedi TV, which used to be one of the government-controlled channels during the previous government. Shortly after the parliamentary election, the former owners of Imedi made
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgian TV viewers will get a new channel in the near future, to be produced by the owners of the magazine Tabula. The new channel will be focused on news and will probably go on air in January 2013. The editor of the new channel will be Tabula
TBILISI, DFWatch -- The audit agency in Georgia wants the chair of the Public Broadcaster to be changed, while groups demand reforms in GPB to return it to people and free broadcaster from government control. Online newspaper Ambebi.ge conducted a
TBILISI, DFWatch -- It is still unknown what will happen to a Russian language TV channel based in Georgia. PIK TV is one of the channels run by the Georgian Public Broadcaster. Since October 12, PIK has been had reduced programming, broadcasting old material
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Georgia’s Public Broadcaster has abolished its contract with the Russian language TV station PIK, which has been off the air since October 19. PIK, or First Informational Caucasian, was a channel belonging to Georgia’s Public Broadcaster. It
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Civic groups in Georgia Friday presented an eight-point plan for how to improve the media environment in the country. Coalition for Media Advocacy, which unites twelve non-government organizations (NGOs), considers it important to make
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Another pro-government television station has been sold in the wake of the parliamentary election in Georgia: Real TV. Real TV, which was a competitor to Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV, and contained pro-government news, shortly after election
TBILISI, DFWatch -- A government-controlled TV channel is in the process of be transferred back to the family of its old owner, the deceased businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili. The return of Imedi TV to its fonder's family has become the hottest topic on social networks
TBILISI, DFWatch -- The director of a government-controlled TV channel and a key figure after the rose revolution has left his position. Control over Imedi TV was Tuesday evening handed over to the family of the deceased businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili, who owned
TBILISI, DFWatch -- Journalists of TV channel PIK Monday evening expressed protest in an unusual way: When viewers tuned in to their news program at 22:20, they could watch the journalists live – in complete silence. PIK, or First News Caucasian, belongs to Georgian
TBILISI, DFWatch -- The government is offering TV stations exemption from paying outstanding tax debts. This will mostly benefit two pro-government TV stations. Acting Finance Minister Alexandre Khetaguri said Monday that broadcasters will be allowed to pay reduced fees
TBILISI, DFWatch -- There is a crisis in pro-government TV in Georgia, after an opposition coalition won the parliamentary election. October 5, several well-known anchors and journalists at Imedi TV, which is controlled by Saakashvili's government, each wrote on their
The founders of Rustavi 2, a TV company are fighting to get back control which they claimed was forcefully deprived from them. Rustavi 2 played an important role in the rose revolution in 2003, which brought President Mikheil Saakashvili to power, but later became completely
TBILISI, DFWatch - The ruling party says the current parliamentary speaker and the prime minister will represent it in election debates. Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili is the National Movement's candidate for prime minister in the election. The chair of the public
TBILISI, DFWatch - A journalist and a cameraman were beaten while investigating the illegal cutting of trees in eastern Georgia. Journalists Vasil Dabrundashvili and his cameraman Bacho Buliskeria, who work for the production company Studio GNS, visited the town Akhmeta
TBILISI, DFWatch - Police have arrested a man accused of beating a cameraman working for an opposition affiliated media outlet. The man has been sentenced to twenty days in jail. The incident took place August 15 in front of the municipality building in
TBILISI, DFWatch - A new report concludes that some of the public service ads in Georgia contain a political message. The report is based on observation of several TV stations and shows that public service ads don’t meets the standards and are in reality covert
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's National Communications Commission (GNCC) Monday published data about the implementation of the must-carry and must-offer principles. 193 642 subscribers are now able to watch Channel 9, an opposition affiliated TV channel, which was
TBILISI, DFWatch – For more than a month, journalists with an opposition-leaning news service in Georgia have been followed around by a group of unknown people while trying to do their work. The stalkers carry cameras and microphones, but do not appear to have an
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgia's National Communications Commission (GNCC) claims that broadcasters will be forced to air free political commercials, even if they don't air paid commercials. Regional broadcasters say it is an incorrect interpretation of the law, which will
TBILISI, DFWatch – A report sent out by a Georgian news agency led to controversy Tuesday. GHN's report said that after Russia became involved in the war in South Ossetia on August 8, 2008, it legally brought military equipment into the region. This report was read
TBILISI, DFWatch – The must-carry and must-offer principle is starting to have effect also around Georgia’s different regions. People living in Kutaisi, Georgia’s second largest city after the capital, report that they are already able to watch Channel 9, Maestro and Kavkazia
TBILISI, DFWatch – The popular newspaper Alia, which has been published in Georgia since 1995, has been fined about USD 30 000 for libel against a well-known actor. The newspaper printed an article which accused actor Otar Koberidze, a favorite of President Mikheil
TBILISI, DFWatch - The media regulatory body in Georgia Thursday said a cable station was trying to politicize the situation in order to divert attention from its own violations. The body has fined Trialeti TV 5 000 lari (about USD 3 000) for broadcasting on a
TBILISI, DFWatch - Around ten youth activists today protested outside the Georgian National Communication Commission against the fining of a regional television station. Irakli Beraia, one of the activists, says the fine is an attempt by the government to suppress
TBILISI, DFWatch - In the Georgian capital, news hungry citizens can now get their daily update from a bright red bicycle. The reason the new mobile newsstand is hitting the streets is that City Hall has removed many of the old permanent booths. Since last December, independent
TBILISI, DFWatch - A civil rights group in Georgia wants a new set of rules to ensure that the country's media watchdog becomes more independent. Georgian Young Lawyer's Association (GYLA) last year criticized the present chair of the communications regulatory commission, Irakli Chikovani, for having a conflict of interest. In a study GYLA found that Ckikovani had refrained from acting against TV stations that showed more commercials than the rules allow. As 35% owner of the largest advertisement firm Magi Style, he stands to benefit from his own inaction. Now GYLA proposes a set of changes to make sure that future commission members will be more independent. Today, the Georgian president suggests three candidates to parliament, which then chooses one among them. GYLA proposes to appoint a group of media workers to find candidates for serving on the commission, instead of the president singlehandedly doing this. The group also proposes an option to have members of the communications regulatory commission dismissed, if twenty thousand signatures are gathered in support of such a demand. Another safeguard they propose is that any commission member shouldn't have worked within ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Media workers in the former Soviet republic of Georgia met Wednesday to reaffirm their mutual pledge to support eachother in case of harassment from authorities. “The main goal is to fight against illegal actions, protecting each other and solidarity when the media is in trouble,” says Mamuka Glonti, who took the initiative to the group. Glonti used to be producer at the independent TV station Maestro in Tbilisi, which was taken over by its largest investor with the help from authorities last November. Its journalists have since been broadcasting with little equipment from a different studio. Another reason for the creation of the group is a new plan by Tbilisi City Hall to replace kiosks in the capital which threatens to monopolize the distribution and sale of newspapers, and could represent a threat against freedom of speech. The group presented a memorandum January 20 which says that an attack on one member will be perceived as an attack on all, and they will take measures to protect eachother. 'Measures' will include protest rallies, appealing to foreign embassies and to the international community. Glonti ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Time Magazine called it one of the greatest hoaxes in history. But 33% of Georgians still trust the channel that scared them out of their wits. That's one the findings Eurasian Partnership Foundation's program called Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) presented Monday. Internationally it's called the hoax news, but locally it is known as the 'simulated Kronika'. This was an enacted report aired on Imedi in March 2010, which purported to show that a few opposition politicians had staged a coup, and Russia had intervened militarily. The fact that it was broadcast in the regular news slot with the same news presenter and identical graphics as a normal 'Kronika', led many to believe that it was real news, which caused a massive panic in the country. Producers considered running a continuous banner warning that it was enacted, but president Saakashvili told them not to do it, because the report would lose its effect, according to a phone recording verified as authentic by British forensic experts. The day this program went on air is etched into the memories of most people. It ripped ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - The new TV station being established by people around Georgian opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili is being sued. It’s called Igrika and was recently bought by a company which is owned by the wife of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire who has said he plans to run in the election this fall and then form a government. Rustavi Media Management Company (RMMC) released a statement today saying it had filed a suit against Igreka, because of damage to personal property. RMMC is owned by Erosi Kitsmarishvili. The reasons for the lawsuit are unclear. DFWatch tried repeatedly to contact Mr Kitsmarishvili Wednesday evening, but his only comment was: "Keep watching". But it is likely to be related to the fact that Igrika belongs to Ilia Kikabidze. Apart from that, he is (or according to Kitsmarishvili, was) general director of Maestro, a TV station which currently is in a protracted feud to which Kitsmarishvili is one of the parties. The other party to the conflict is the journalists and techincal staff, who have fled to a radio studio and are continuing to broadcast from there, while ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Two employees of a TV station in Tbilisi who were arrested four days ago have been sentenced by a court to fifty days pretrial detention. The two are employed by one of the two opposing sides of a crisis-struck Maestro TV. The independent cable station was split after its manager broke into the studios November 30 and took control over most of the expensive equipment. Journalists fled to a radio studio and have been keeping the signal alive under what they call emergency conditions. Broadcasts are lacking name tags and other technical effects, and journalists have been trying to get back their equipment, but police have barred them from entering. The two who were jailed, Valery Gikashvili and Mikheil Zedgenidze, are employees of Rustavi Media Company, the company which bought Maestro’s management rights two years ago and are now in physical control of its main studios. They were arrested on charges of appropriation of Maestro’s equipment and resisting police. The company protests the court decision and calls for the public defender and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to monitor what is happening and ...
TBILISI, DFWatch – Representatives of Georgian media gathered today at the office of Obiektivi, an internet based radio and television outfit, to prepare the draft of a memorandum for a new media association, which will be called Solidarity for Freedom of the Media. The new association is the initiative of Mamuka Glonti, the co-founder of the independent television Maestro, which is in a difficult situation these days, after its head Erosi Kitsmarishvili broke into the main studio building on November 30, forced the journalists to leave, and is still in control of the premises. The current stand-off at Maestro is one motivating factor. Another one is what newspaper workers are calling an active campaign by the government to destroy their distribution system. This is about a project by Tbilisi City Hall to auction off locations for kiosks in Tbilisi. Many of these locations are at places where there until recently used to be newspaper kiosks. The old kiosks have been torn down during the last month. For these and other reasons, Mamuka Glonti took the initiative to set up the new association to ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Representatives of the media, press distributors and other supporters gathered Friday in front of the Holiday Inn at the center of Tbilisi to once again protest against the situation created around the newspapers and press distributing kiosks. ‘We light, Saakashvili darkens’ – this was the message written on fliers that rally participants were holding today. It is connected to Tbilisi City Hall’s program called ‘1000 booths’. Under the new project City Hall announced an auction to locate booths around in the capital, exactly on places where there have been newspaper kiosks for a long time. Shortly after this project was announced, hundreds of kiosks were taken away. As a result, it affected most of the newspapers and their runs. They have had to reduce their circulation, and the press distributor companies have already fired many of their personnel. People were holding lamps and lights as a symbol – to look for booths and kiosks which have been standing for years on specific places but now have disappeared. “This is forcing print media towards bankruptcy. With these lamps we are looking for ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian TV stations have released information about who owns them. It has long been a general impression, but hard to prove, that Georgian TV stations are controlled by the government. The information substantiates these suspicions and shows to what extent persons around the country’s president have a stake in the broadcasting media. This comes as the result of a new law about transparency in media ownership, which is the initiative of the civil sector. For the last couple of days, Imedi TV and Rustavi 2 have published what is called declarations of conformity, where the names of the new and old owners are listed, as well as the size of their shares. The owners of Imedi TV according to the document are Joseph Kay (10%), Giorgi Arveladze (45%), Giorgi Korakhashvili (30%) and Giorgi Mikeladze (15%). These people are holders of the company Georgian Media Production Group, which is 100% shareholder of Imedi TV. Until November 2011, 90% of the company was registered offshore, while 10% was owned by Joseph Kay, cousin of Georgian tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who intended to go into politics ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - As a bundle of election related bills are up for final review in parliament, it became clear Tuesday that the ruling party is against a proposal prepared by media workers about how to conduct monitoring of media fairness during the election campaign. The proposal concerns changes to the Election Code and the law about the Political Unions of Citizens, two of the most important laws being updated. On several issues there was not agreement, and parts of the changes were therefore postponed to the third hearing later. Media monitoring is important, because the media in Georgia has been met with significant distrust from the population. The national TV networks are seen as fundamentally pro-government, and during past elections there have been gross violations of ethical standards, including a staged shooting on election day in May 2008, which appears to have been part of a PR exercise by president Mikheil Saakashvili to mobilize voters. In addition to direct violations, the coverage is largely perceived as biased and favoring the authorities, with national networks regularly providing the government with opportunities to hold spectacular ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Editor of newspaper Rezonansi Eliso Chapidze (pictured) and a group of media workers Friday submitted a bill to parliament, asking for strengthened protection of journalists ahead of next year's parliamentary eleciton. The authors of the bill asks to create the conditions so journalists can work in accordance with international standards. One of their proposals is to have more transparency in the finances of media. “It’s very important; we should be very transparent to avoid the transfer of the administrative resources into the media, which is controlled by the government,” says editor in chief of the newspaper Rezonansi Lasha Tugushi, who has been working on the bill since May together with media expert Zviad Koridze, editor of Rezonansi Eliso Chapidze, legal expert Vakhtang Khmaladze and lawyer Alexander Baramidze. The changes also include issues like media monitoring and regulation of paid and free political advertising. The working group considers it very important to separate journalistic products and advertising, in order to avoid hidden advertisements, especially since the government recently proposed to restrict party financing. The initiative group thinks that the prices of political advertisement ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - One of the chain of newspapers outlets in Tbilisi tell of a more than 80% drop in sales. The reason is that city hall has physically torn down most of their kiosks. The press association warns that that this could kill free press in the country. This was the gloomy forecast laid out at a press conference today, where representatives of newspaper distributors and the head of the Georgian Press Association listed the alarming figures that are the results of Tbilisi City Hall’s project ‘100 Booths’. The City Hall says it aims to improve conditions for small and medium sized businesses, and announced an auction for locations of new kiosks which includes places where there have been newspaper kiosks for years. Because the prices in the auction are very high, it’s unlikely that existing distributors will be able to afford the lease, even if they win the contract. Another argument City Hall is making is that the newspaper kiosks have been illegally located at their current locations. But at the meeting in Tbilisi Marriot Hotel on Wednesday, a representative of a press distribution company rejected ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian media workers Monday continued the campaign to raise awareness of the pressure they are coming under on several fronts. Employees of an evicted TV station joined newspaper staff to picket the president’s residence in Avlabari in the center of Tbilisi. Many people wore a red tie symbolizing that the media doesn’t have an opportunity to work freely in the country. Recently the independent TV station Maestro was taken over by an investor and staff evicted, while the town hall in the capital has taken away newspaper kiosks and stands. Eliso Chapidze, editor of the daily newspaper Rezonansi says that the reason for protesting in front of the president’s residence is because the ‘harassment policy against the free media comes from the supreme leader and not from a specific official.’ Lasha Tugushi, editor in chief of Rezonansi and the head of the Georgian Press Association stated that every newspaper booth in the capital has been taken away, which is an ‘abomination and unprecedented behavior.’ “We came to the residence to say once again: President Saakashvili, do not kill the press! Just as we ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - An attack on one is an attack on all. That’s the principle for a new organization formed today by heads and representatives of several Georgian media units. Within one week a working group will prepare a set of rules for how to coordinate a common response when attacks happen. The initiative comes in the wake of the takeover of Maestro TV on November 30. The journalists and staff of the station have been evicted from their studios but keep on broadcasting from a makeshift studio originally meant for producing only radio. Mamuka Glonti, co-founder of the independent TV station Maestro, announced the new unit at a protest rally Maestro journalists held last Friday to demand that they are allowed to return to their normal journalistic working conditions like it was ‘before Erosi Kitsmarishvili’s intervention.’ Glonti called for the heads of all media outlets to set up new media unit and this way ‘an attack on one media unit will be perceived as an attack on all media outlets.’ At today’s meeting, which was held at Tbilisi Marriott Hotel, it was said ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Journalists working for an embattled Georgian TV station today called for solidarity and announced that they will found a new media unit. The rally took place in front of a local police building on Nutsubidze Plateau, not far from the center of Tbilisi, and the main demand is that they be allowed to continue their work under normal conditions. Journalists from other Georgian media outlets, as well as politicians and representatives of non-governmental organizations, joined them to show support, holding placards and blowing whistles for about forty minutes. Mamuka Glonti, one of the co-founders and a former producer at Maestro TV, called for the heads of all media units to gather on Monday in Tbilisi Marriott Hotel in order to set up a new media unit. “Let’s come together organizationally, all the media, on the principle which NATO has, that an attack on one media unit will be perceived as an attack on all media outlets,” he appealed, asking representatives of media to show up on Monday and sign a memorandum. Glonti demanded that the police let the legitimate director of Maestro, ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - The crisis continues at independent Georgian TV station Maestro, as suspicion is growing that the interference is politically motivated. Financier Bidzina Ivanishvili for the first time came to Maestro’s studios Tuesday evening for a live conversation on a regular discussion program called Pirdapiri Saubari (Direct Talk). Wednesday morning before daylight, the station's manager broke in and demanded to have journalists assembled in order to instruct them, on the premise that Maestro was devoting too much air time to Ivanishvili. Staff refused to take instructions from a politician, and the crisis developed. Many see this as a repetition of what happened to Imedi TV, once admired in Europe for its independence, but today seen by most as fiercely pro-government. It was stormed by police in November 2007, and then was subject to a questionable financial takeover ultimately decided in the courts. At Maestro studios the nervous atmosphere continued Wednesday afternoon as the producer kept alive an emergency broadcast behind locked doors while police prevented most of the station's journalists and staff from entering. Broadcasting was cut off for several hours earlier, but staff is ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Journalists at Maestro were pacing nervously around in the TV station’s yard Wednesday afternoon, still physically prevented by police from entering their studios to reestablish normal broadcasting. Inside the studios, behind locked doors, producer Mamuka Glonti was leading an emergency broadcast with a few other journalists and technicians, who managed to enter before police sealed the studios. Mamuka Glonti, the journalist who co-founded Maestro, says that when the stations wealthy financier, Erosi Kitsmarishvili, entered the building early in the morning, a Maestro employee called for the police. But instead of helping the journalists, the police sided with Kitsmarishvili and physically prevented the journalists from entering and carrying out their work. Early in the morning, Kitsmarishvili said he is in his full rights to intervene with the channel’s editorial policy. He fired three of the top people: Mamuka Glonti, co-founder and current producer, the general director Ilia Kikabidze and Levan Chikvaidze. Kitsmarishvili said that these people have a share in Maestro, so they were fired in terms of their role as employees, and not as shareholders. Maestro journalists have released a statement about ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - An independent TV station in Tbilisi was taken off air Wednesday morning, the day after businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili was on live from their studios. Police have surrounded their studios and most journalists are not allowed in, but the station's director and a few journalists are inside,broadcasting short updates. Many regard what is happening as interference in the work of the media and as a response by authorities to a new political reality after Ivanishvili declared his wish to enter politics. The crisis at Maestro TV started when current manager, Erosi Kitsmarishvili, also a well-known politician, broke into their premises Wednesday morning before work had started and tried to arrange a meeting with the staff to give instructions. When the staff refused to take instructions, saying they would not be influenced by a politician, Kitsmarishvili declared he was firing the station's producer Mamuka Glonti, its director Ilia Kikabidze and one other in the management, effective immediately. Glonti, who also owns part of the station, is disputing Kitsmarishvili's right to fire him. During the scuffle, a Maestro employee called the police, who upon ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - Georgian publishers, journalists, editors and others rallied in front of Tbilisi’s City Hall high rise Tuesday to protest against a new plan to replace the capital’s newsstands. The project is called ‘1000 Booths’ and will according to representatives of the media involve removing most of the newspaper sales points which have been a part of the city’s pulsating life for years. Some are simply a portable rack, brought along in the morning and removed in the evening. Others are small permanent booths affiliated with a chain. The process to remove old newsstands has already begun. City Hall explains that the agreement with the newspaper distribution companies had expired, but the companies say that they have repeatedly appealed to the City Hall to prolong the contracts but they kept explaining there is no appropriate law for this process. The problem is that the newspaper subscription system is not popular in Georgia. People get their daily newspapers from the newsstands. Taking them away will effectively make the press inaccessible to people. Not only representatives of print media, but many other media units participated in ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - The script writer for a new TV show has broken off his cooperation with businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili, due to threats against his family. Zviad Bliadze was recently signed up to be the writer for an animated satire show that is to be financed by Ivanishvili, called Dardubala. But his family members were threatened that they would be fired if Bliadze went to work on the show. "I’ve been repeatedly told from family members that if I don’t leave Dardubala, they will be fired from work,” Zviad Bliadze explained in a statement. Bliadze is a well-known Georgian actor best known for his role on a comedy show. Some years back he worked together with journalist Shalva Ramishvili. In the early 2000s they made waves through the show Dardubala, which was aired on Rustavi 2, then an independent TV station. The show poked fun at the authorities during a time of a growing democracy movement which ultimately led to the ousting of president Eduard Shevardnadze. Then Shalva Ramishvili founded his own station called TV 202, and after the rose revolution the two of them ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - In 2011, several journalists have lost their job for simply expressing their opinion on the internet. The ability to freely acquire and distribute information should be recognized as a basic human right. That was the message from media commentators from the three south Caucasus countries who had gathered in Tbilisi this weekend to exchange views on the media and freedom of speech. “In 2011 I remember several journalists who were fired for expressing their opinion on a social network site. one case was at the channel Mega TV, in the Khoni region. The journalist uploaded a self-shot video. The same happened in Kutaisi, a journalist was fired for her activity on Facebook," Natia Kuprashvili, director of Association of Regional Broadcasters of Georgia said during a debate after one of the speeches. The Eighth South Caucasus Media Conference was held in Tbilisi on 20-21 October at the hotel Marriott Tbilisi. The topic of this year’s conference was Pluralism and internet governance. It was attended by up to 80 people, and included government representatives from Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, as well as media, ...
TBILISI, DFWatch - The chair of Georgia's media regulatory commission keeps back from interfering when TV stations break the advertising rules. His inaction as a watchdog leader is to his own personal benefit. The chair, Irakli Chikovani, has a 35% share in Magi Style Media Ltd, which sells TV airtime to advertisers. Therefore, the chairman's private income depends on advertising rates and the amount of advertising in the broadcast schedule, according to a new survey by two Georgian organizations. The group found that Mr Chikovani has stayed passive when he should have imposed sanctions on the TV channels for exceeding law imposed time limits for ads, and that this he stands to benefit from this financially. This amounts to a conflict of interest, and is just one of several serious problems researchers from Young Georgian Lawyers Association (GYLA) and Levan Mikeladze Foundation found while monitoring the commission's work. The monitoring took place from July to September 2011 with financial support from Open Society Georgia Foundation, and results were presented at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel October 18. Levan Dolidze, chairman of Levan Mikeladze Foundation, explains that ...
Journalists Wednesday responded to the wealthiest Georgian Bidzina Ivanishvili's call for them to form an alliance to unseat Mikheil Saakashvili, while experts debated whether Georgia had the right to revoke his citizenship. Tuesday night, the tycoon-turned-politicians had the support of at least the viewers, if not the staff, of two small cable TV stations which have become central to one of the world's richest men's attempt at removing Mikheil Saakashvili from power. On the channel Kavkazia, 91% of viewers voted that the decision to revoke Ivanishvili's citizenship was unlawful. Alsmost exactly the same percentage voted similarly on an almost identical question on the sister cable channel Maestro. But the administration and staff at the two independent TV stations are measured in their responses to the entices from the tycoon to form an alliance, in order to return Georgia to its people. "Maestro's cooperation with Ivanishvili, Mikheil Saakashvili, Putin, and Obama and with everyone is real: who will finance us? Maestro is grateful for all money that isn't acquired illegally, we are ready to cooperate," Mamuka Glonti, co-owner of Maestro, told the Georgian online newspaper ...
The public broadcaster and two independent TV stations are competing to carry the political debut of Georgia's richest man. First, the public broadcaster released a statement saying it invites the Georgian billionaire on to their Channel 1 to answer the questions from journalists. The financier had asked before the weekend to be let on the channel. “Ivanishvili requested to speak on the Public Broadcaster. Naturally, the broadcaster has not refused this request,” the statement reads. “A meeting was held today between the spokesman of Ivanishvili and the general director of the public broadcaster. The broadcaster reiterated that is ready to let the businessman have air time in a talk show format.” The exact format is yet to be agreed, but Bidzina Ivanishvili is ready to answer journalists's questions in any format, according to a statement published October 8 by his spokesman. The public broadcaster however only wants to let him on in one of their three talk shows. “We offer one of the three talk show formats. Now he and we must be satisfied with the formats that are currently available in the Public ...
The billionaire businessman who said he would run in the next election has received a cold shoulder from two independent TV stations he said he wants to buy. Bidzina Ivanishvili's extensive written statement about his political goals, which was published on Friday October 7, focuses particular attention on Georgian television. While criticizing President Saakashvili's regime, Ivanishvili emphasizes that all the president is doing would have been impossible without total control over the media. "All media including Maestro and Kavkazia are controlled by Saakashvili. They are special-purpose pseudo-oppositional channels," the statement says. Their broadcasting cover only Tbilisi, and people in the capital clearly know what is the real situation and for the president there is no significant negative impact from what these channels will do, according to Ivanishvili's statement. It goes on to state that the channels have a special purpose: "They are a platform where a pseudo or real opposition has an opportunity to regularly express their position and voice their criticism of Saakashvili. Along with politicans, the aggrieved, poor citizens are able to take part in criticizing the government via telephone and ...
Three journalists and four media companies filed an administrative lawsuit at Tbilisi city court Tuesday morning against Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs, asking to be compensated for the injuries they sustained in the night of May 26, when police violently dispersed a protest rally ahead of an Independence Day parade. The journalists presented the court with a list of ten witnesses they say can confirm that police beat them and damaged their equipment in the tumultous night and ask to be compensated for the financial loss they have suffered as a result of damage to property and health damage. The complainants are journalists Tazo Kupreishvili and Konstantine Stalinski from Netgazeti.ge, and Nato Gogelia from Guria News agency. Also part of the claim are the media units Newspaper Batumelebi Ltd, Chokhatauri Messenger Ltd, News Ltd and Radio Centre Plus Ltd. At today's preparatory meeting the judge accepted the plaintiffs' request to let the ten witnesses testify when the trial starts, witnesses they say will confirm the fact that the journalists had their cameras taken and were beaten by police. The claimants showed the judge video ...
The reason journalist Shalva Ramishvili wanted to get into Mikheil Saakashvili's vineyard on Sunday was that the president was hosting a number of other TV journalists there. Georgian TV viewers have become accustomed to these events, which are often broadcast live on several of the national channels, all of which are widely believed to be under the control of the government, though this has proven hard to ascertain. Investigative reporters revealed that when the president held one of his live broadcasts in a village in the Sachkhere region near South Ossetia, in which he celebrated the completion of a new water supply which would let children swim in a new swimming pool, in fact the water supply had not been completed, and the water flowing from the tap had been brought up to the village in fire trucks only temporarily filling the reservoir. This report was shown on Maestro TV, which has called into question the truthfulness of a number of Mr Saakashvili's TV events. On Sunday the president had gathered journalists at his country estate nead the village Kvareli, 140 km west of ...