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Public broadcaster chairman to stay on post

By Shorena Labadze
Thursday, May 29
Georgian Public Broadcaster board chairman Irakli Tripolski said yesterday he may not resign if his colleagues take his complaints into account.

Tripolski said on May 27 that he would resign, complaining of bias in the state-owned public broadcaster’s news coverage.

Many opposition politicians praised his initial decision to step down, calling on other board members and journalists to follow Tripolski out the door.

But the moderate oppositional Republicans released a statement asking Tripolski to stay on and fight for balanced TV coverage from the inside.

“In the current situation it is crucially important to use even the tiniest of chances to strive against the governmental propaganda machine,” the Republican statement read.

“The Republican Party calls on all members of the [Georgian Public Broadcaster] board to do their utmost for the station’s impartialness, and to prevent full governmental control from returning to this state institution.”

Tripolski assented, saying yesterday he would keep his position if his colleagues would take into account his recommendations, including increasing the board’s role in managing the station.

The board has a supervisory capacity, and was appointed by parliament in February after international observers criticized Georgian media, including the state-owned public broadcaster, for giving more positive coverage to incumbent Mikheil Saakashvili in the January presidential election.

“I will meet the board representatives on May 30 and let them know my concrete suggestions. If my offers are acceptable for them, I think there would be a reason for me to keep the post. If not, I can’t see any sense in my being in this post,” Tripolski told the Utsnobi radio station yesterday.

He could not be reached for further comment.

A recent OSCE monitoring report singled out the public broadcaster for praise, saying the station gave reasonably balanced coverage of the campaigning for last week’s parliamentary elections.

“Public TV, in particular, offered the electorate a valuable opportunity to compare parties and candidates,” the pre-election report read.

The station’s director general, Levan Kubaneishvili, dismissed charges of partiality as “funny” when speaking to reporters this week, saying the channel had fairly covered opposition activities.