TBILISI, DFWatch – The State Audit Service has intervened in the activity of the TV company Maestro, demanding information about advertising agreements and money transfers with Georgian Dream and Komagi foundation, which is also affiliated with the Georgian Dream coalition.
The Prosecutor’s Office Wednesday seized satellite dishes belonging to Maestro TV. Tbilisi City Court immediately approved this decision. The Prosecutor’s Office thinks the TV company was to distribute the satellite receivers to voters for free for political purposes, but representatives from Maestro say they are not a political organization and doesn’t have an interest in bribing someone to get votes, but only did it out of commercial interest.
One of Maestro’s lawyers, Dimitry Gabunia, told journalists that Wednesday he received a letter from the State Audit Service (formerly known as the Chamber of Control), charged with enforcing new tough party finance regulation. He thinks it’s not a coincidence that the two statements from the Prosecutor’s Office and the Audit Service were released the same day.
“This means all of Maestro’s property may be threatened with seizure, which gives rise to the suspicion that it was a complex decision to solve issue regarding Maestro,” the lawyer says. He adds that they are appealing the city court’s decision, but they do not have any hope that the Appeals Court will change anything.
Today, Maestro TV released a statement which says that on July 3 the company started a PR campaign called ‘Maestro in Every Family’. They planned to install satellite dishes in several regions during summer. They claim that Maestro is an independent private company with only one interest: to develop and increase the number of viewers. Therefore, this was a business plan.
“The leadership of the company considers that by interrupting this process, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office and the court is interrupting Maestro’s development as a free media, and accordingly, the right of society to receive diverse information, which is a very important problem two months before the elections.”