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United opposition discuss media as another TV station comes off air

By Messenger Staff
Friday, November 30

Adam Michnik, a Polish newspaper editor, conducted closed-door talks with opposition figures and representatives of Imedi TV on November 29.

Michnik is on an official visit to Tbilisi at the request of the Council of Europe, and will submit a report detailing his findings on the media situation in Georgia in the run-up to the elections.

Details of what was discussed have not yet been made public. However, before the meeting, conservative party leader and united opposition coalition member Kakha Kukava told The Messenger that Imedi TV was high on the agenda.

“We’ll be discussing free speech in Georgia, and the main subject will be Imedi [TV], which remains off air—we still need concrete answers [as to when Imedi will resume broadcasting],” he said.

Imedi TV, which was founded by prominent business tycoon and presidential hopeful Badri Patarkatsishvili, has been off air since it was accused of airing statements encouraging the overthrow of the government on November 7, after the authorities cracked down on street protestors.

A resolution was passed in the European Parliament on November 29 calling for “impartial access to the media during the election campaign.”

Meanwhile, controversy over the media situation in Georgia continues. On November 28, an independent cable television station, Maestro TV, stopped broadcasting in disputed circumstances.

The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) said it hadn’t ordered the station’s shutdown. However, station manager Mamuka Glonti claimed transmission had been disrupted to prevent the station’s airing a two-part program on journalism and democracy.

He added he had come under pressure from an unknown person two weeks ago, who warned against broadcasting the programs.

However, GNCC representative Giorgi Ratishvili said the station was most likely experiencing technical problems.

In interviews with media outlets early yesterday evening, Glonti said the station would resume broadcasting shortly, adding that acting president Nino Burjanadze had helped resolve the situation.