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NGO’s Demand Resignation of Georgian Public Broadcaster Director

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, February 12
The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society representatives ask for the resignation of Georgia’s state-financed Public Broadcaster (GPB) Director General, Vasil Maghlaperidze, stating the director’s “inconsistent decisions” lead the broadcaster to crisis.

The NGOs released a six-point plan elaborated by them, which aims at improving the current situation at GPB. The demands of the NGOs’ include:
1. Meeting with the Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, adding a higher degree of political will is required to improve the situation at GPB.
2. Parliament of Georgia should look into the activities of the Public Broadcaster and organize a public hearing to examine the extent to which the broadcaster is fulfilling its legal obligations.

“The Board of Trustees and the General Director must be summoned to the Parliament,” the NGOs claim.
3. Resignation of Vasil Maghlaperidze, who had a vogue plan and failed to fulfill his duties, NGOs claim.
4. Conduct an extraordinary audit of the broadcaster to examine its work over the past year.
5. The reform of the GPB must include a possible revision of the institutional formation of the Board of Trustees and amendment of norms regulating its activities.

“The Parliament must set up a working group with the involvement of civil society that will develop a better model for setting quotas and selecting members of the Board of Trustees,” the statement reads.
6. The Parliament must not overrule the President's veto on the amendments to the Law on Public Broadcasting, as it needs to work with the civil sector and other stakeholders on legal amendments necessary for reforming the broadcaster.

On January 15, President Giorgi Margvelashvili vetoed the amendments to the broadcasting law, which gives GPB more independence, power and also the right of commercial advertising.

The GPB, whose financing increases proportionally to the state budget, received around 44.5 million last year while in 2018, the funding of the GPB increased by 5.695 million GEL and amounted to 52.100 million GEL.

The NGOs claim the proposed law significantly increases the risk of non-transparency and corruption from the GPB, saying it should not be granted the right of commercial advertising as it is financed from the budget.

According to the civil sector, the bill may damage the private broadcasters and the Georgian media environment in general.

This is not the first time the NGOs slam the GPB Director General and accuse him of nontransparent spending of the people’s money.

Maghlaperidze became the GPB Director in January, 2017. Since then the NGOs and opposition parties have many times reiterated concerns about Maghlaperidze being favored by the current government.

Maghlaperidze is himself a former employee of GDS TV, which is owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili, ex-Prime Minister of Georgia and a founder of ruling the Georgian Dream party (GD).

Last year, Maghlaperidze’s 2017-2019 Action Plan, which included the closure of 102 programs except news, also caused harsh criticism from the society.