TBILISI, DFWatch — Transparency International Georgia (TIG) predicts that the television environment will stay polarized.
Less than two weeks have passed since the election, and the political changes have already started to have an effect on the television environment.
In TIG’s opinion, this environment will stay polarized, because TV companies are controlled by persons who are associated with political parties: The United National Movement and Georgian Dream.
The wife of the future prime minister and leader of Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, owns 80 percent of Channel 9 shares, and the owner of the remaining 20 percent is Kakha Kobiashvili, a relative of Ivanishvili.
Channel 9 does not have a general broadcasting license, needed to carry news programs. For this reason it was fined once and Georgian National Communication Commission stated that will look into whether Channel 9 is still violating the law.
Georgian broadcasting regulations prohibits giving a broadcasting license to political parties or public figures, but this prohibition does not extend to their relatives.
The head of the Revenue Service and the Defense Ministry bought 40 percent of the biggest TV company Rustavi 2 for USD 500 000, while the cash flow of the company is USD 39 million.
There are also serious changes in the TV company Imedi. The relatives of Badri Patarkatsishvili, former owner of the company who died in London after having a confrontation with Georgian government, met the current owner Giorgi Arveladze and employees of TV company.
The family of Patarkatsishvili is now regaining control over the TV company and are ready to finance it. This process began on October 17.
“Today is a very emotional day for us. Soon we will answer all the questions. Our main aim is to make Imedi objective, ethic and balanced,” said Ina Gudavadze, the widow of Badri Patarkatsishvili.
After the meeting, TV company changed its logo and returned to the old one. Also, TV and Radio Imedi stopped broadcasting news. Representatives of the TV company say news broadcasting will continue when the process of returning control over Imedi to Patarkatsishvili’s family is completed.
Nana Patarkatsishvili, sister of Badri Patarkatsishvili, said that journalists who can’t match the TV company’s policies, can leave.
Several TV programs have already closed down on Imedi. The same has happened on Georgian Public Broadcaster. Heads of GPB decided to close down two programs by Vakho Sanaia: European Choice and Vakho Sanaia’s Reportage.
Vakho Sanaia and his staff were fired on October 9. He criticized the heads of GPB before the elections, because it broadcast the prisoner torture videos.
Transparency International Georgia thinks that every political party should abstain from using GPB for political goals. The employees of GPB should have an opportunity to be focused on their responsibilities.