TBILISI, DFWatch – Saturday was just another day for president Mikheil Saakashvili. But it dominated the news on Georgian national TV channels.
The news was simply put that the president visited Rustavi, a small city just south of the capital Tbilisi, to talk to the locals about how things are going.
This news story took up the first 55 minutes on Imedi’s 5 o’ clock news and the first 40 minutes on Rustavi 2, in both cases without commercial break.
The president decided to walk from block to block in Rustavi and talk to people about what has changed, what has been built and plans for further development. He visited four big yards in Rustavi and held impromtu discussions.
Both channels showed the entire conversations. One shot lasting for about fifteen minutes was the president standing in front of a building surrounded by a crowd of people asking questions, thanking him and receiving answers. Several minutes of it was just the crowd shouting ‘Misha’ (president Saakashvili’s nickname).
Another scene showed a wide circle of people sitting and listening while the president stood inside the circle holding a microphone and talked about having created 20 000 new jobs in Rustavi and about future plans. The crowd cheered, and we see old people thanking the president for being so great.
Then we follow Saakashvili who goes to visit a swimming pool for children, while finally we arrive in a conference hall, where the president is meeting with the heads of the town to discuss future projects, concluding that ‘more needs to be done.’
Both channels decide to show the same footage, but a bit shortened version in the late news at 20:00 and 21:00. This time Rustavi 2 starts with a report about the situation in Russia, followed by a report about Nana Devdariani leaving her job as advisor for opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili. Devdariani was one of the key figures in the Shevardnadze government.
The third news is a half hour item about Saakashvili’s visit to Rustavi, followed by short report about a maternity hospital in the Lagodekhi region, where ten infants were born. Then comes a report from the winter resort in Gudauri: The “snow day” celebration, which is visited by Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava and finally we are informed about the speaker of parliament visiting Kakheti to review projects planned in Kakheti.
Imedi runs the same report with just a few changes in the sequence of segments. One or two minutes are spent on a report about the Georgian sailors who were held hostage off the coast of Somalia, then foreign news, and a little bit longer about problems people are having driving on the roads because of the snow.
Imedi and Rustavi 2 announce a photo contest organized by the website of the president’s fan-page, about the rules and prizes for participants.
The next day newborns appears to be the main topic for the channels. Now we have are offered the chance to visit a maternity hospital together with president, who brings presents to ten mothers, talks to each of them, takes a group photo with mothers and children. We learn about a newly built hospital. Then there are interviews with mothers about how much they like the hospital and we see them thanking the president.
This time the news about president’s visit lasts around 10 minutes on each channel.