TBILISI, DFWatch–TV9, a channel affiliated with Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, went off air on Monday. It had earelier announced that it would close on September 1.
The news program at 21:00 was its final broadcast, with News Director Luba Eliashvili saying goodbye to the audience.
Ivanishvili issued a statement earlier in the day saying that he and his family had decided to close TV9 and the online news and webcast service info9.
Eliashvili said that after today’s statements, TV9 received a number of calls from people who were interested in purchasing their equipment, and some from people interested in buying the company. They also had received calls from viewers, she added.
“It is a special day for Channel 9, and it turns out the main question is ‘how much does the equipment cost?’. But this equipment is sold many other places than at Channel 9, but they think they will get it very cheap. It is not a pleasure when we hear only this from our colleagues,” she said. “In fact, this channel is not just equipment. This is professional employees and the work which they have done during all this time.”
She said no-one is happy about the channel closing, but it is also ‘understandable’.
“I think me and you were getting angry when during every press conference there was a question about selling the channel. The PM answered angrily or calmly,” she said, adding that many journalists asked this question because they believed that it would be better for democracy if the PM didn’t own a TV station.
She said she thinks Ivanishvili’s decision will benefit the development of democracy in Georgia.
In his statement the prime minister wrote that from August 19 to September 1 they would give people who are interested in buying the television station one more chance to buy it. However, the channel and its employees refused to continue work for ten more days.
The info9.ge website which also offers online TV covering the regions will continue to function for these eleven days.
The prime minister offered to sell info9 and TV 9 for one third of their real worth.
TV 9 went on air April 30, 2012.