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New director general appointed to Georgian Public Broadcaster

By Eter Tsotniashvili
Monday, April 7

A new director general has been selected to helm the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), the station’s supervisory board announced on April 4.

Levan Kubaneishvili will replace Tamar Kintsurashvili, whose resignation was a key opposition demand following the disputed January presidential election. Though a relative unknown, Kubaneishvili has been in the television industry for the past 15 years, holding a number of posts, including director general of government-friendly Mze TV.

Opposition coalition member Gia Tortladze told the paper there is no immediate negative reaction to Kubaneishvili, although the opposition’s stance will depend on how he carries out the role.

The GPB came under fire from the opposition for its coverage of the presidential campaign in the run-up to the January 5 election.

An OSCE election monitoring report noted that in the four weeks before election day, the GPB devoted nearly 30 percent of its prime time coverage to ruling party candidate and eventual winner Mikheil Saakashvili.

“…While the news on [the GPB] was somewhat more balanced [than private stations] in the time allocated to all candidates, the tone of its coverage favoured the former president,” the report said.

In addition to accusations of political bias, the GPB has also suffered falling ratings in recent years, something which the new director general says he hopes to turn around. “Society should accept [the GPB] like a family member,” he said.

Kubaneishvili commented that while political news is the focus of the channel, entertainment programs will be aired, and information should be presented in a way which retains public interest.

He added that that better management of the GPB will be a key aim of his six-year tenure. “Every level should work to achieve our goals, starting from the executive board and management down to each employee,” Kubaneishvili said.