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Public broadcaster gets new management, but will everyone like it?

By Shorena Labadze
Monday, February 25
Government officials say they will collaborate with the opposition to draw up a shortlist for a new board of trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), which will be presented to parliament this week.

However, it is still unclear how the board will be selected and some analysts and opposition figures doubt the process will see real concessions from the government.

Authorities received 235 applications for the nine-member board by the February 20 deadline and by law the president is required to submit a shortlist of 27 nominees to parliament.

However, parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze said February 21 that the composition of the board will depend on agreement with the opposition, according to online news source

The opposition coalition submitted 17 demands to the government on January 29 but later suspended talks, saying they would not resume until the government delivers on three key issues, one of which is the resignation of GPB chair Tamar Kintsurashvili.

At an opposition demonstration on February 22, Gachechiladze claimed that among the “solid guarantees” the opposition received from Burjanadze was that Kintsurashvili would resign by February 26.

In a memorandum released last week, the government said a new GPB head will be elected by a new board of trustees that is acceptable to both sides.

Oppositional New Rights MP Manana Nachkebia sounded upbeat that the two sides would cooperate on the issue.

“If the law is followed, of course we would have no opportunity to select candidates that the opposition prefer,” she said, adding that the authorities are obliged to make a concession by giving the opposition some say in the shortlist.

However, political analyst Gia Khukhashvili says that despite the rhetoric, the government is unlikely to compromise.

“The process [by which the board will be selected] is very obscure at the moment. To me it seems we won’t see concessions from the authorities,” Khukhashvili says, characterizing the situation as a “two-sided monologue.”

New Rights leader Davit Gamkhrelidze also expressed doubts that the opposition will have much say in the composition of the new board.

Human Rights Ombudsman Sozar Subari underlined the importance of choosing a board that instills confidence in the public.

“The same is required of the director general,” he said, singling out journalist Ia Antadze as a suitable candidate.

“She is a journalist with strict principles and will be a real guarantee of clearing the station of political influence,” Subari remarked, adding, “More importantly, she is a candidate the authorities and opposition parties may well be able to agree on.”

Among the applicants for board membership are prominent figures in the public eye, including political analysts, journalists and musicians.