TBILISI, DFWatch – Media in Georgia have launched a campaign in support of TV company Maestro, which had thousands of satellite dishes seized by authorities.
Ilia Kikabidze, general director of Maestro TV, Lasha Tughushi, editor in chief of newspaper Rezonansi and Basa Janikashvili, chair of Radio Utsnobi, Monday delivered an appeal to the Prosecutor’s Office.
On Saturday, leaders and editors of many media in Georgia gathered to plan a campaign to help Maestro get back the satellite dishes which were recently seized.
The meeting resulted in an appeal which says that this intervention is contrary to democratic principles declared by Georgia and will interrupt citizens’ ability to make an informed choice on election day.
“We perceive this as a step contrary to independent media. We also note that it’s completely unacceptable using state institutions like the Prosecutor’s Office and the court against media out of political goals.”
Representatives of Maestro TV explain that distributing these satellite dishes was part of a PR campaign called ‘Maestro in each Family’. Furthermore, the company did not plan to distribute the equipment for free. However, the Prosecutor’s Office accuses them of trying to bribe voters to help the Georgian Dream coalition.
Today, Basa Janikashvili explained that installing these satellite dishes would have also have let people receive seven other Georgian TV channels, including the three pro-government channels.
Lasha Tughushi, editor of the daily newspaper Rezonansi, explains that many laws were violated when the prosecutor’s office seized the equipment, including the constitution, the law about freedom of speech and freedom of expression, the criminal procedure code, and the law on political unions of citizens, which was recently amended by parliament.
He says it is very important that people can receive diverse information, including channels like Maestro, Kavkazia TV and Channel 9, as mostly majority of the regions are covered by the national broadcasters Rustavi 2, Imedi and Channel 1.
The campaign will organize a rally in front of the old parliament building in Tbilisi on Wednesday. Another part of the campaign is to meet with local and international organizations, as well as with foreign diplomats in Georgia.