First Caucasian may appeal
By Ernest Petrosyan
Thursday, July 15Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) lost its case against Europe’s leading satellite operator Eutelset at the Paris Court of Commerce on July 12. GPB had sued the French company after it ceased broadcasts of GPB’s First Caucasian Russian-language channel in January.
GPB is disappointed with the decision and described the verdict of the Paris court as "unfair and groundless" in a statement on July 13. It also said it was considering whether to file an appeal. It added that its court costs amounted to GEL 900,000 (around USD 490,000).
The Paris court rejected GPB’s motion demanding that Eutelsat to restore its Russian-language First Caucasian Channel broadcasts from the W7 satellite, which operates at 36 degrees East - a key coordinate for broadcasting to Russia and other CIS states. GPB was also seeking reimbursement of financial damage caused by the removal of the First Caucasian Channel from Eutelsat’s satellite.
“The argument of the French court was purely financial. The French satellite company stated that this coordinate was occupied by a Russian company. Eutelset offered us an alternative satellite, W2A, but this does not cover the North Caucasus and accordingly meant that our target audience would not be able to see the broadcasts. The court decision was also political, since the Russian authorities are against our broadcasting,” Head of News Programming at First Caucasian Channel Ekaterina Kotrikadze told The Messenger. She added that the possible appeal is being discussed by the GPB board and no decision has been made yet.
GPB also said that it continues to work on the further development of the First Caucasian Channel. “The decision has been taken to restore the channel’s broadcasting within the next few months,” GPB said without giving further details.
After its removal from the satellite in January First Caucasian Channel was only available for viewers in Tbilisi through cable networks and on the internet. But in early June the channel suspended broadcasting - although maintaining a presence on the internet - pending the decision of the Paris Court of Commerce.