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Adjara TV is to pick up two popular TV programmes controversially axed by the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) in June. The shows are a joint production with the Georgian bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
On 5 September, head of Adjara TV Natia Kapanadze confirmed that Tsiteli Zona (Red Zone) and InterVIEW will be aired on the channel under different names from mid-September.
In July, the new administration of GPB ceased broadcasting the shows after the contract between them and RFE/RL expired and GPB declined to renew it. The move was condemned by many, including RFE/RL and independent media self-regulatory body the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics.
Media rights groups have claimed that GPB Director Vasil Maglaperidze, who was appointed in December, ‘is not politically neutral’, as he previously served as deputy director of Metskhre Arkhi, a channel belonging to former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
InterVIEW, a joint weekly show consisting of in-depth, 30-minute interviews asking hard-hitting questions to politicians, newsmakers, academics, and artists, had run since December 2015, while Tsiteli Zona was on air since 2007.
Tsiteli Zona, will be renamed Anareklebi (reflections), while a new name for InterVIEW has yet to be announced.
Adjara TV, based in the east Georgian Autonomous Republic of Adjara, is officially part of GPB, but maintains a different management team and is an independent legal body. At least 0.15% of GPB’s budget is shared annually with Adjara TV.
Kapanadze explained to Netgazeti in February that both channels have separate priorities, action plans, and are independent of each other.
Kapanadze, formerly a lawyer at leading rights group the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, was appointed to head the channel in October 2016. She has enjoyed the informal support of local media rights groups with her plans to increase the social responsibility, ratings, and level of trust in Adjara TV.
In their March 2017 report, media watchdog Transparency International Georgia discussed a number of major challenges that have been hindering Adjara TV’s development, including poor budget planning and management, and several others.
The decision, which was applauded by several activists on social media, comes while Kapanadze is facing an accusation of ‘discrimination’. A senior member of Adjara TV’s legal service, Malkhaz Bolkvadze, has filed a complaint against Kapanadze to Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office. He claims Kapanadze forced him to work during a holiday.
Kapanadze has denied this, claiming she only reprimanded Bolkvadze for failing to fulfil a task he was given, which she says angered him.
Kapanadze says she finds it suspicious that Bolkvadze took the case to the Prosecutor’s Office, not to the impartial Public Defender, and has speculated that ‘certain forces’ may have engineered the complaint to hinder the broadcaster’s plans to develop further.