Public broadcaster in Georgia may suspend its programming
All programming on Georgia’s public broadcaster, except for the daily news bulletin ‘Moambe’, may be put on hold until 2018, as part of a crisis management plan presented by the company’s general director Vasil Maglaperidze on February 6.
He said the broadcaster’s board of trustees and the public were welcome to weigh in on the proposed action. Apart from suspending the programmes, he said he planned to lay off some of the company’s staff and to use the funds thus released to replace its equipment. What equipment the broadcaster has now is worn beyond serviceable limits, which, Maglaperidze said, is a big problem resulting from a faulty funding arrangement where only 5 percent of the 410 million GEL the broadcaster has received in the past ten years has been spent on technical renovations.
Maglaperidze said he needed three years to refurbish the broadcaster’s building and create decent working conditions for its staff, to set up offices in different Georgia regions, launch a multimedia news lab, and digitize its archival materials.
‘Disgraceful’ is how media expert Nino Danelia described Maglaperidze’s presentation. ‘General director seems not know the public broadcasting law which obliges the public broadcaster to make sure that citizens obtain their information from socially-oriented and political programming, as well as from newscasts,’ she said in an interview to JAMnews.
Maglaperidze’s crisis management plan has already prompted some sharp criticism from non-governmental organizations. An ‘Advocating for Media’ coalition of 12 NGOs released a statement saying the plan disagreed with the law on public broadcasting and was headed towards killing off the television. The public broadcaster must be prepared to offer not only news, but also multifaceted analysis and discussion to its audiences ahead of the local government election and constitutional reform, both to be conducted in 2017, the NGOs said.
- Georgia’s public broadcaster relies on the state budget for its funding. It comprises two television channels and two radio stations.
- Vasil Maglaperidze was appointed general director of the public broadcaster by its board of trustees on January 6, 2017 for a period of 6 years.
- For two years prior to the appointment, Maglaperidze had been general producer for a social-and-political program ‘2030’ on GDS, a TV channel owned by the family of Georgia’s ex prime minister and informal leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili.
- Still before that, he had worked for TV9, another channel belonging to Ivanishvili’s family.
- Maglaperidze was twice elected as a member of the Georgian parliament in 1999-2008, and served as a governor during the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili. Later, he was an active Georgian Dream supporter.