Passengers can no longer hear political satire, but instead get commercials on their way around Tbilisi, if they step onto one of these yellow minibuses. (Photo from Tbilisi municipality.)

TBILISI, DFWatch – The days are over when passengers on Tbilisi minibuses could catch the latest political gossip on their way around town.

Drivers used to tune in to stations like Utsnobi, Palitra and Maestro, which are independent and often poking fun at the Saakashvili regime.

But when drivers of the new yellow minibuses came to work Wednesday morning, they found that the radio was no longer working.

The company Tbilisi MicroBus Company, which over the course of the last year has replaced the informal minibus system in most of the capital, says they had to switch off the radios, because it was interfering with advertisement screens being installed.

A study by Transparency International recently showed that the advertisement sector in Georgia is a near monopoly, controlled by a former defense minister and Saakashvili confidante.

Drivers say that they were told a different reason for why radios were disconnected: that they interfered with a new radio frequency-based ticket system.

According to the webpage of magazine Liberali, drivers believe the real reason is political.