TBILISI, DFWatch – The recently founded Channel 9 TV, which is affiliated with Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream party, has bought a ten percent share in a popular regional television station, TV Trialeti, for one million dollars.

Channel 9 Director Kakha Bekauri says the reason for the investment is government harassment of Trialeti, which arises from the fact that the company has been forced to depend on financing from the local government.

“We want to help regional TV Companies to let them have independent editorial policy. When they receive this financing, Trialeti will have an opportunity to become independent and free TV, to make own programs, become stronger and more free,” he said.

Badri Nanetashvili, one of the owners of Trialeti, says that there is harassment from the government, including financial harassment. This makes it difficult for them to make local programs and to pay salaries and bills. He says that’s why the idea came to mind for Channel 9 to help.

According to the agreement signed between the two companies on May 14, Channel 9 will not have the right to intervene in the management of Trialeti or choose its programs.

The director of Trialeti says that his company doesn’t have enough funds to cover national and international news and reports. Until the new agreement, Trialeti was broadcasting independent TV Maestro in the evening, but now they agreed that at 9:00 in the evening Trialeti will instead broadcast the main news program of Channel 9.

Media.ge quotes him saying that people are more interested in the news on Channel 9 rather than Maestro. He also noted that the agreement will not affect Trialeti’s information policy.

In April, Trialeti was fined 5 000 lari by the Georgian National Communication Commission. (https://dfwatch.net/media-regulatory-body-denies-harassment-25039 )

One week ago, Trialeti was taken off the repertoire of the cable company Cosmos, a decision it considers targeted action.

Trialeti is based in Gori. It was founded 20 years ago and has about 450 000 viewers. Its studio building was used as location in the 2011 film “5 Days of War”. Trialeti later complained to the filmmakers against the way it was portrayed in the film.

When it comes to Channel 9, a company owned by Ivanishvili’s wife’s in January bought Igrika, a TV company which was founded by the director of the small, independent TV station Maestro. Despite problems in the beginning, as having their equipment damaged in customs service, Igrika finally, in the end of April, started broadcasting as Channel 9.