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E- auction attracts potential investors to TV Antenna

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, July 27
The much-discussed auction of "Alfa-Comi" (former Georgian TV-Radio Centre) remains the subject of controversy among Georgian society. Explaining that 100%-share of government-owned LTD "Alfa-Comi" is not being sold but given away in “a 4-year management” Vera Kobalia, the Georgian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development spoke of the transparency of the process on Tuesday. As the Minister said at the Governmental Session, the new manager has to put in a GEL 12 million investment as part of the deal. “Everything is being carried out in the frames of electronic-auction and is open to all the interested companies which would improve the services and provide new technical equipment,” she stated.

According to the information released at the official web-page of the e-auction the main condition for the potential investor is to maintain the profile of the enterprise. The auction will be held on August 1 at 5 p.m. but no interested sides have visited the TV antenna so far. Boris Adamia, Deputy Director of “Alfa-Comi” said that the administration of the TV antenna have heard about the governmental decision by chance. “When we came to work on July 5 we saw that the title of our centre had been changed to “Alfa-Comi”, Adamia said stressing that the title does not make sense if the functions of the TV-Radio Centre would remain the same. As Adamia explained the TV antenna had run into debts during the former President Eduard Shevardnadze’s governance and from 2010 they started paying around GEL 2 million to the state budget annually.

The Georgian Party requested the Minister to specify details of the auction and emphasized the amount of property in “Alfa-Comi.” In a special statement the Party encouraged the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development to indicate what they mean in “maintaining the profile of the enterprise.” Highlighting that the 274-meter high TV Antenna unites 35 other smaller masts around the country, the Georgian Party wondered whether the new manager would follow all the obligations which “Alfa-Comi” has taken on.

Party member Sophio Khorguani listed the series of obligations the Law of Broadcasting has given to TV-Radio Center in terms of technical and service provision and establishment of non-discriminative tariffs at a press conference. “Georgian Party addresses the Georgian National Communications Commission to learn the case of the “Alfa-Comi” as the authorized communicative entity with an important influence on market,” Khorguani stated. Doubting the sudden changes with the name of the company and the immediate announcement of an e-auction, the Georgian Party found it too risky for the potential investors to invest a solid amount of money in such a short deadline. Supposing that the Government might have planned everything in advance, the Georgian Party thought that the auction would only have formal character.

Media representatives are opposed to the “secret auction” of the TV Antenna. Nino Jangirashvili Director of Kavkasia TV tried to find additional information from the Ministry but in vain. Having phoned the Ministry’s press service as a “potential investor” Jangirashvili was simply advised to better familiarize herself with the information at the web page which Jangirashvili found absolutely insufficient. “The information at the web page is thorough but those who can’t make a sense may not participate in the auction,” was the Press Service’s answer.

Worried of the possible problems the auction may cause, economic analyst Gia Khukhashvili stressed the necessity for providing detailed conditions for potential investors during the tender period. “The Government has to define all the obligations towards the potential investors and make sure they are transparent and don’t represent an offshore zone. Otherwise the country may face risks referring to economical and state safety issues,” the analyst said doubting of the existence of a “preliminary deal” with the Government.