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Still hope for Maestro

By Sopo Datishvili
Monday, October 13
On October 10 the Parliament of Georgia decided that Maestro TV might be given a license to broadcast political programmes again.

Giorgi Targamadze, the leader of the Parliamentary minority, who moved this motion, asked Chairman of the Parliament David Bakradze to become personally involved in this issue. Targamadze, a former journalist of Imedi TV which was raided and closed after the November street protests, has gathered some of his former colleagues in his opposition party, which has then taken on the role of the active defender of freedom of speech in the country.

After the meeting Bakradze told journalists that the Maestro issue is very serious due to its freedom of speech dimension. He explained that according to law it isn’t possible to give a new license to Maestro but a modification of the old license is possible. He added that the Government should think about finding a compromise solution in this case especially as there is a way to achieve this.

On April the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) made the decision not to give the channel the right to broadcast political shows. Maestro appealed to the Tbilisi city court, but the appeal was rejected, a move criticized by Ombudsman Sozar Subari, who said that the Government was deliberately restricting the free media and thus limiting freedom of speech.

On October 2, the director of Maestro told The Messenger that he was planning to appeal to the European Court. He appraised the decision of the Tbilisi city judge as “the imprisonment of freedom of speech.” Now however Mamuka Glonti seems to be content with the statement of David Bakradze. He says that the Government decided to draw back as a result of journalistic pressure.

Bakradze discussed the issue not only with MPs but with the GNCC Chairman Giorgi Arveladze. After these meetings he expressed his hope that the consultations would continue and a final decision would soon be made. Gia Tortladze, a member of Parliament’s new Anti-Crisis Council, has said that in the light of this, there now appears to be sufficient political will and that the channel would therefore soon be able to start broadcasting political shows. He added that further discussion on this issue will be held on October 13.

Maestro TV has been a popular musical channel broadcasting entertainment programmes only but as Mamuka Glonti told The Messenger, after the raid on Imedi it has become necessary to think about hosting political shows to present a greater diversity of viewpoints to the public. Maestro is planning to broadcast political and social programmes in primetime as soon as its license is modified. Whether these manage to become popular in a short period time will tell.