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Badri Patarkatsishvili’s family establishes the Media Freedom Support Foundation

Thursday, April 29
Dear friends,

Imedi, the television station which was once deservedly respected and trusted by you, no longer exists. The only thing left is the shell - a name that has been devalued by the non-objective information policy of the current management, installed by the Government.

When Badri Patarkatsishvili founded the station he chose the name carefully and deliberately. The station was a beacon of independence, which is something we all treasure. It set a new standard in the Georgian media space for uncensored, high quality information, analysis and freedom of speech.

Badri's family continues its legal fight for the return of Imedi, but unfortunately this process may take longer than we would wish.

In the meantime, we think it's important to make our own contribution to support the development of media freedom and independence in the country. That is why we have decided to establish a Media Freedom Support Foundation. Its purpose is to encourage and assist those who can make that goal of independence a reality, as professional journalists, and who may have the courage and vision, but lack resources.

We have asked the former British Ambassador to Georgia, Donald MacLaren of MacLaren, to help establish and then lead this Foundation, supported by a Board of knowledgeable and respected individuals. We are confident that even if we can make only a modest contribution to Georgia it will be a positive one.

Badri Patarkatsishvili family

Statement of Donald MacLaren of MacLaren

I am honoured and delighted to have been asked by Inna Gudavadze to help establish and take direction of the Media Freedom Support Foundation.

As Her Majesty's Ambassador to Georgia from 2004 to 2007 I developed a huge admiration and respect for a country and its people that, like my own, place such a high value on independence and freedom. These words are not empty slogans. Generations of Georgians have fought, and suffered, to make those words have real meaning - in their own lives, as well as in the life of the nation.

When I was working at the Embassy, doing what I could to advance media freedom was one of my highest priorities. Each time I have returned to Georgia I have been struck by how many people - and not just journalists - have said that independence of the media is pivotal to how democracy will develop in Georgia today.

Apart from trying to serve that higher goal, the Foundation will have no political motive. Its purpose is simple and transparent: to help support independent, high quality and objective journalism.

The Foundation, of which I will be Chairman, will have a small Board comprising Georgian and non-Georgian members, mixing those with a media background and those with other expertise. We will be assisted by a staff in Tbilisi. Both Board and staff are now being assembled.

Our job will be to assess applications for support, which we are inviting both from media outlets and individual journalists. Television, particularly news and current affairs, will be a priority area but bids will be welcome from across the spectrum, including press and radio; and, importantly, not just from Tbilisi but also the regions.

The Foundation's funds are not limitless. We will focus on project bids - for example, for equipment or training or programme-making - that are properly costed, sustainable and, above all, that we judge will make a genuine contribution to helping the development of media freedom.

When planning is further advanced I intend soon to return to Georgia to make an official launch of the Foundation. In the meantime, I hope that this preliminary announcement will serve as a stimulus for project bids to be prepared and, even if in outline form, be submitted to the website address given below.

Georgia has gone through difficult times. It still faces these. There has rarely been a greater need for the country's media to have integrity and independence. The establishment of the Foundation is an exciting development. I look forward to the challenge of helping it work successfully for the benefit of a country that deserves success.

Media Freedom Support Foundation - Application Guidelines

Applicants should submit projects that support and enhance media and journalistic freedom in Georgia. Projects could cover a wide range of areas such as written or electronic media, media content and delivery, production and technical support. Priority areas for the Foundation are news and current affairs reporting, including investigative reports in both Tbilisi and other regions of Georgia.

Successful applicants should be able to provide a realistic project plan, clear understanding of the resources required to implement such a plan and an ability on the part of the applicants to implement the proposed project. Each application must describe how the proposed project contributes to media and journalistic freedom in Georgia.

The Foundation will look for evidence that applicants have sought assistance elsewhere (e.g. OSFG, USAID, etc.). Existence of a prior successful history of fundraising from established donors/investors would improve chances of success. Similarly, if such prior applications have been denied, explanations must be provided about the reasons the project has not been accepted.

The following is a suggested guideline for an application.

• Description of the project
• Goals of the project
• Timeline
• Necessary resources / including financial
• Reasons this project will contribute to media / journalistic freedom in Georgia

• Detailed description of all phases of the project
• Resources necessary to implement the project such as equipment, production premises, human resources, training, etc.

• Detailed financial analysis of the project (pro-forma cash flow statements, expected revenues, costs and capital investments, taxes, etc.) broken down by components and by months / weeks.
• Anticipated other sources of investments, loans or donations
• Cash shortfall to be covered by the grant from the Foundation

• Resumes of key personnel clearly describing prior experience in the media sector
• Demonstrable capacity of key personnel to implement the proposed project successfully

Applications have to be presented in the English and Georgian languages and submitted to the following e-mail:

The Messenger has published this statement at the request of Badri Patarkatsishvili's family