TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia’s opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili has gone on the barricades against the Public Broadcaster, saying that it should change their editorial policy.

“Lies won’t have such a way out anymore as it has today. They won’t be able to sell lies. They will shift, and will have to act the way society wants.”

Ivanishvili says they are going to change society so there won’t be any place for lies. What sparked the attack was a political talk show on Channel One hosted by journalist Eka Kvesitadze. The businessman said the way she runs her show is so offensive ‘that so many people came on the rally organized by Georgian Dream.’

Now the businessman is calling on the employees at the public broadcaster to change their editorial policy, or to “change rhetoric”, as he phrases it.

“Otherwise, people won’t invest in financing the television, there won’t be commercials and no money will be paid. Every TV station will get into such a situation. I don’t want to close any of them, on the contrary more TV stations should be opened.”

The Public Broadcaster views Ivanishvili’s statement as a form of harassment.

“We have learned that if we do not “change rhetoric” and are not absolutely loyal to Ivanishvili; in case of Ivanishvili comes into power, the future of the public broadcaster as an institution will be in doubt.”

GPB’s statement says that deliberately changing the financing rules of the Public Broadcaster and even threat to close it is nothing less than blackmail and a serious attempt to intervene in its editorial policy in the midst of an election campaign.

“It seems that Ivanishvili wants to see a public broadcasting exclusively in the service of his political interests, which conflicts with freedom of the media and the concept of public broadcasting.Mr. Ivanishvili, for your explanation: 1. The host of a program is not a presenter 2. Commercial advertising, except for unique cases, has been banned on GPB since 2011.”

GPB appeals to international and local organizations and media outlets ‘to adequately assess instances of oppression of media by Ivanishvili and his political team.’

Responding to the charges, Ivanishvili clarified what he meant, calling the GBP’s statement libel.

He underlined that the public broadcaster should be working in the service of the public interest and not a servant and executioner of any government.

“They said I am blackmailing the GPB when I state that a television financed by public money should fulfill its obligations appropriately and not spread lies.”