TBILISI, DFWatch – Media workers in Georgia demonstrated Monday in support of a TV company.
They were protesting the seizure of thousands by the Ministry of Justice of satellite dishes belonging to TV company Maestro.
The background is a marketing push by Maestro called ‘Maestro in Every Family’, which began on July 3. The TV company planned to install satellite dishes in the regions outside of Tbilisi. The first satellite dish was installed in the small village Khandaki, in eastern Georgia, on July 3.
The prosecutor went to the court and demanded the seizure of satellite dishes, arguing that Maestro had a political motive with its plan, to support the opposition Georgian Dream movement.
Maestro brought a large amount of satellite dishes into Georgia. The sat dishes were ordered by Elita Burji, a company affiliated with Georgian Dream. The prosecutor’s office claims that the dishes will be given to people for free, to influence them in the same way as Global Contact Consulting does.
One of the owners of Global Contact Consulting, the company more known as Global TV, is the brother of Bidizna Ivanishvili, the world renowned billionaire and informal leader of Georgian Dream. Global TV was subject of a similar action and had thousands of satellite dishes seized by authorities on June 21.
Bacho Kikabidze, head of Maestro, said that had not even started installing the satellite dishes and have not planned to do it for free.
Currently, there is a de facto halt in the sale of satellite dishes in Georgia.
The media union ‘Solidarity for the Freedom of Media’, which includes 15 media organizations, demanded that the satellite dishes are returned to their owners and to stop the pressure against the media.
Solidarity for the Freedom of Media argues that Maestro’s campaign was directed at improving its market position, and that this is a natural and logical action for any business enterprise.
Mamuka Glonti, founder of Maestro and Solidarity for the Freedom of Media, said that satellite dishes are the only way to broadcast in regions.
The main task of the prosecutor’s office is to postpone the whole development until after Election Day, so that people in the regions are unable to get independent information, said Mamuka Glonti.
The members of the media union signed a statement which calls upon the Georgian government and the international community to resist the pressure on the media and promote free, competitive elections.