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Protest outside Public Broadcaster

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, September 23
The Board of Trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) held a sitting on September 20th and invited Tamaz Tkemaladze, the acting Director General of GPB. The board members gathered to talk about the TV programs of the new session and also to discuss several issues with Tkemaladze.

The talk-shows “Accents” hosted by Eka Kvesitadze and “Dialog” hosted by Davit Paichadze, had been canceled. Tkemaladze signed a decree on closure of the two programs on September 18th and the board wanted to hear some explanations from the general director. Both journalists had appealed to the board and requested the future of their talk-shows to be discussed at the board’s sitting.

The sitting was accompanied by a protest rally held outside the GPB building. Representatives of non-governmental organization Civil Involvement demanded attendance to the sitting and more transparency of the board’s work. However, their request was denied and the sitting was held without the presence of NGO representatives.

Representatives of the Young Human Rights Association also protested outside the GBP. They accused the boards of being obedient to the interests of one party.

“The board has been following only one particular party’s instructions all these years… The media should be free and independent.” Nika Memanishvili, representative of the Young Human Rights Association stated at the rally. He also added that it had been reasonable to close the talks-shows and his organization strictly opposed returning Pachadze and Kvesitadze as the hosts. Memanishvili stated that the board, as well as the aired political talk-shows always served the interests of United National Movement.

Georgian political analyst Mamuka Arehsidze also joined the protest rally. He explained that the board and the style of the GBP management was unacceptable for him. “I do not like that the board is politicized. There is still fight going on for gaining influence over the GBP by the UNM,” Areshidze said.

The board had announced before the sitting that the main reason for their gathering was to select and approve one out of three proposed broadcasting nets for the upcoming season. The nets were prepared by the GBP management team.

“We agreed on the second version of the net, which is the most moderate one out of the three,” Emzar Goguadze, Chairperson of the Board announced after the meeting. He explained that the board had to choose the net that is financially moderate.

The board members also revealed after the sitting that journalists Eka Kvesitadze and Davit Paichadze will not return to the GBP with their talk-shows and the decision will not be revised. The board works on selecting new hosts for the leading political talk-shows of the new session. The management has proposed three candidates: Nana Lejava, Eka Beridze and Eka Mishveladze.

Former TV hosts Kvesitadze and Paichadze did not attend the board sitting, as they considered it tobe a “show” and not a working meeting. Alternatively, the journalist attended a meeting between Emzar Goguadze, Chairman of Board of Trustees and Richard Norland, US Ambassador to Georgia. Goguadze and journalists informed the ambassador about the ongoing processes at GPB.