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General Director of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) Vasil Maghlaperidze has said the broadcaster is ‘thankful for the gift’ from the son of former Georgian Prime Minister billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The agreement between GPB and rapper Bera Ivanishvili’s Silk Factor Studio would have been worth ₾372,000 ($149,000) over the next two years.
‘For now, we needed [the equipment] very much, we are very thankful. In the future, we will welcome similar steps from others with understanding and gratitude’, Maghlaperidze told Moambe, a news programme on GPB’s first channel on 6 November.
Maghlaperidze said that ‘uproar from a certain part of society and their sense of caution against something bad happening is to be welcomed’. He added that he is ‘sure this is due to their support towards the broadcaster, but this has benefited us’.
GPB’s Board of Trustees will make the final decision over whether to accept the gift or not on 9 November.
A number of leading civil society groups, including the Open Society Georgia Foundation, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, and others, have criticised the move.
Twenty-nine organisations made a statement on 2 November that the ‘latest developments in the GPB, strengthening the influence of Bidzina Ivanishvili and the government, raises concerns and questions the impartiality of the channel, and creates a risk of politicising it, which contradicts the idea of a public broadcaster and threatens the media environment’.
Bera’s Silk Factor Studio, founded in February 2017, was the only contender for GPB’s public tender for equipment. The studio is headed by Goga Khaindrava, a director who recently created and directed Herokratia, a TV series alluding to alleged abuses under former President Mikheil Saakashvili. The series aired in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
In another move, GPB is planning to pay ₾480,000 ($180,000) for an entertainment TV series ‘vacancy for the position of the murderer’ to another of Khaindrava’s companies, Le Khaindrao Production.