TBILISI, DFWatch – Companies distributing newspapers in Tbilisi are calling for their colleagues who want to participate City Hall’s project ‘1000 Booths’ not to sumit bids for locations where there were newspaper kiosks before.

Planeta Forte, Matsne and Elva Servis released a common statement regarding the auction, which is held today and will continue tomorrow. In the statement there are listed the numbers of the lots where newspaper kiosks were standing until recently, asking for solidarity from other companies.

“We thank those companies and individuals who have taken account of our request, supported us and not participated in the auction for specific locations on December 30,” the statement says, adding special thanks to the two egg producing companies Kumisi and Koda.

“This allowed us to keep the old places, but there also were persons, who didn’t listen to our request and who participated in the auction in the name of individuals.”

Tbilisi City Hall over a month ago began implementing a project called ‘1000 Booths’, whose goal is to support small and medium sized businesses in Georgia and create a fairer business environment.

But newspapers and magazines, as well as companies distributing newspapers claim that the project doesn’t provide equal opportunities, because owners of newspaper kiosks will not be able to pay the new high rent.

Media representatives have been protesting against the auctions and asked for solidarity among newspapers and distributors. They consider this project a campaign to destroy the distribution system.

Already what is happening has had a noticeable impact on the circulation numbers and revenue of newspapers. Circulation has decreased significantly; while the distributors have had to fire most of their personnel.

Nine auctions have already been held, according to the Tbilisi City Hall, where 450 lots have been presented. There already are winners awarded for 136 lots.