Georgian Public Broadcaster journalists reveal channel's censorship, blacklisting
“Blacklists” on Georgian Public Broadcaster
Journalists of the First Channel of the Public Broadcaster “Akhali Kvira” (“New Week”) say that the channel has a so-called black list of respondents, and journalists and it is forbidden to take comments from them or invite them on air.
This list includes non-governmental organizations, politicians, experts and cultural figures.
The Akhali Kvira program has not aired for three months. Three journalists who left the channel – Imeda Darsalia, Sopho Zedelashvili and Tamta Dzhanadze – spoke about the censorship of the channel at a briefing held at the office of Transparency International in Georgia.
As Imeda Darsalia, the former host of Akhali Kvir, stated, in particular, all the experts of the Rondeli Foundation, including Zurab Batiashvili, were included in the “black list”. The list also included the international relations expert Eka Akobia, former European Integration Minister Buka Petriashvili, former Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli, Caucasus expert Levan Dzhedzhelava, international relations expert Batu Kutelia and the entire Georgian branch of the US Atlantic Council.
According to Darsalia, some topics were also prohibited.
“The package about the war crimes of the USSR was blocked, which led to a conflict within the team. Protests in Belarus were also blocked – the channel’s management did not want to criticize the Lukashenka regime. The journalist was also warned not to write badly about Russia, and drew a parallel with America – just as you can’t write badly about America, you can’t write about Russia either, because a certain part of our audience is pro-Russian”, Darsalia said.
Tamta Dzhanadze, a journalist for the Akhali Kvira program, also confirms that while working on stories, the channel’s management demanded that critical comments about the ruling party be cut or removed.
She told a press conference that she faced many artificial obstacles while working on the main political theme of the week. There were cases when materials on current political topics were removed from the program due to “untimeliness”.
She said management tried to either completely remove critical comments about government officials or cut them down.
Tamta Dzhanadze recalled the package prepared for the election of Salome Zurabishvili as president.
“Before the program was released, the general producer entered the editing room and cut out critical comments from experts about representatives of the ruling party. In addition, I had to cut out graphic materials based on data from the Central Election Commission, which showed that Georgian Dream lost the same percentage of supporters in six years as the former right-wing National Movement party lost in nine years”, the journalist notes.
According to her, the prepared material about the shadow cabinet of the opposition “did not get into the program because of the “timing”.