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After wavering, public broadcaster chair makes final decision to resign

By Shorena Labadze
Monday, June 2
Georgian Public Broadcaster board chairman Irakli Tripolski made a final decision to resign on May 30, citing the limited powers of the board in the station’s management.

Tripolski first announced his resignation on May 26 complaining of political bias in news coverage but days later said he would remain on the post if his colleagues agreed to take his recommendations into account.

Those recommendations included increasing the board’s role in managing the station.

However, after a May 30 board meeting Tripolski said he found it “impossible to serve society conscientiously” under current circumstances.

He said that law on the public broadcaster allows the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) director to take unilateral decisions, and criticized him for not ensuring balanced coverage.

“Providing comprehensive information about developments in the country—especially today—should be the goal of this television [station], but unfortunately the director either cannot or is not securing this,” he said.

The former chairman also said he was not shirking from responsibility. “It is just impossible based on these circumstances to follow commitments I’ve undertaken,” he said.

Deputy chair of the board Levan Gakheladze said he found Tripolski’s comments “confusing.”

“Hearing this statement was a little confusing for me as when each of us applied for this post, we knew the law gave us duties as well as obligations. So making a fuss about something that was clear from the beginning is not convincing,” he said.

Another board member, Mikheil Chiaureli, said that last week GPB director Levan Kubaneishvili handed Tripolski an official letter telling him he had “no right” to give the director instructions.

It came after Tripolski complained to Kubaneishvili that the station’s coverage of an opposition protest rally on Georgia’s Independence Day last week was unbalanced, according to Chiaureli.

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

In the run-up to last month’s parliamentary elections an OSCE/ODIHR pre-election monitoring report singled out the GPB for praise, saying the station gave reasonably balanced coverage of campaigning.