TBILISI, DFWatch — Journalists of TV channel PIK Monday evening expressed protest in an unusual way: When viewers tuned in to their news program at 22:20, they could watch the journalists live – in complete silence.
PIK, or First News Caucasian, belongs to Georgian Public Broadcaster and is the only Tbilisi based TV channel in the Russian language.
Journalists at PIK appeared mum on screen as a show of protest to demand to know what the future of PIK is. Lately, there has surfaced information that Georgia’s Public Broadcaster doesn’t have enough money to finance the channel any more.
Two anchors as usual opened the program, saying that journalists of the channel know nothing of what’s going to happen to PIK and their journalists tried to find out more. They switch from one to other reporters from different spots in Tbilisi. Reporters stand against a background of the GPB office, Public Broadcaster in silence for several minutes. Also sport, culture and weather reporters appeared live on screen without saying a word.
The chair of the channel asked not to let this program get on air, but journalists defied him. Alexandre Pantsulava only says negotiations with GPB continue.
A few days ago, PIK was switched off satellite broadcasting. PIK is financed over GPB’s budget as a channel belonging to the Public Broadcaster. In 2012 it received 14 million lari, nearly USD 8 million.
PIK journalists also report that they haven’t received salaries for a while and it is unclear why they were taken off the satellite broadcast.
Giorgi Chanturia, General Director of Channel 1, which also belongs to Public Broadcaster, says PIK’s journalists are not employees of GPB, which therefore has no obligations to them.
But he tells Channel 1 that it is a prerogative of GPB which satellite to broadcast its own TV channels via, and a company cannot decide with whom GPB signs its agreements.
“At this stage we had negotiations with the other satellite broadcasters,” he said, not giving any details about taking PIK off the satellite broadcast.
The channel transmitted its signal from its own dish to the satellite, but the channel’s representatives say this arrangement cannot last long for technical reason.