A protest rally, organized by journalists and some media outlets, was held outside the Parliament building in Tbilisi on July 25 to demand from the authorities to release impounded thousands of satellite dish antennas back to Maestro TV.
During the rally some protesters were holding plastic plates with Maestro TV logo and others banners depicting satellite dishes and reading “wanted”.
About 10,000 satellite dishes, imported by Maestro TV for handing out in provinces as part of its campaign to broaden scope of its viewers, were impounded earlier this month after the chief prosecutor’s office said it had “sufficient evidence” to prove that Maestro TV was in “sham deal” with companies affiliated to Georgian Dream opposition coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. The chief prosecutor’s office claimed that Maestro TV was acting on behalf of Ivanishvili-affiliated companies with a purpose to hand out satellite dishes as part of “vote-buying”. New shipments of satellite dishes, imported by Maestro TV, were again seized by the authorities on July 22. Maestro TV has strongly denied links with Ivanishvili or with his companies.
A group of media organizations have launched a campaign, calling on the authorities to return impounded satellite antennas, condemning seizure of the property as the authorities’ attempt to hinder public’s access to diverse source of information.