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GPB hosts debates General Director’s position

By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, December 26
A debate among the candidates for the post of General Director of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) was held on the First Channel of the GPB on December 24th.

5 candidates: Natia Abramia, Megi Tavdumadze, Giorgi Baratashvili, Nikoloz Makharashvili and Tinatin Rukhadze qualified for the second round of the open competition by the Board of Trustees of the GPB. All candidates were provided equal opportunities to present their viewpoints and answer four set questions. At the end of the debates each candidate was given one minute to conclude their speech.

The financial liability of GPB was the first issue the candidates had to comment on. GPB owes money to the state and banks and there is the possibility that the budget may be cut.

Nikoloz Makharashvili and Megi Tavdumadze think that it is important to establish a crisis management system for the broadcasting channel and the annual budget plan should also be reviewed so that its available finances could be used as efficiently as possible. Makharashvili also offered to establish a sponsorship and fundraising mechanism, which can help in finding some extra funds.

The candidates also mentioned that in order to reduce expenditures, a staff-reshuffle may be needed. She also considered the option of laying-off several employees. The idea was strongly opposed by Tinatin Rukhadze, explaining that the station's financial difficulties should not affect journalists. She said one of the ways of solving the problem can be to lease GPB property. However, a leasing policy should be built-up very carefully.

Natia Abramia, who currently works for BBC news room, was very critical while assessing the level of independence at the broadcaster, answering the question about the possible ways to keep media policy independent. She said the media independence on TV cannot be based only on one person; it should be based on a group of people who are led by someone who is free from any influence. “The level of independence cannot be maintained without professional journalists and cooperation among society,” she said.

All other candidates share the idea that media policy should be built only after comprehensive research is done to find out what society expects from the GPB. Makharashvili does not exclude the possibility of inviting media experts from abroad who can help establish independent media policy.

The list of the priorities of candidates does not differ greatly. To develop media policy based on the interests of society still remains their major priority. However, Baratashvili also suggested repairing the building GPB is based in hoping the government will be able to help with the issue.

On the question of how they see the ways of communication with people, Megi Tavdumadze replied that communication can be unilateral or bilateral. However, in the case of GPB the communication with society should be an “uninterrupted circle” and internet (social network, official web-page) should be one of its tools to maintain this contact.

The candidates also mentioned that currently GPB is very remote from the people, therefore it is not considered to be one of the trusted media sources. Abramia thinks that the station's media policy needs to be blamed and the situation should urgently be changed.

The general director of GPB is appointed by the Board of Trustees by an open competition for a term of 6 years. The candidate shall be appointed to the office within 1 month after the origin of the opening.