Regional TV News Programs “Off-The-Air”
Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti
News related programs of the Kakheti based TV Companies of Telavi and Gurjaani have ceased broadcasting. Nato Metungishvili, the head of the News Department of the Telavi TV Company “Tanamgzavri” reported they are expected to resume broadcasting in September. The board of however, correspondents of the TV Stations are to be furloughed and will be on unpaid holidays.
“Matsne”, News item of the Telavi TV Station, was delivered each day with the exception of weekend at 10:00 AM; 9:30 PM and 10:00 PM. The correspondents for the “Tanamgzavri” prepared the materials about the news program and the focus was mostly related to providing its work on July 1.
Nato Megutnishvili stated that the reason for the closure was because there was a lack of news during the summer. “We always had holidays in July and August but this year the suspension of the news broadcasting resulted from a lack of information. Now is the summer and governmental officials have taken their holidays. Consequently they are not giving press conferences. Regardless, almost every governmental agency refuses to make comments, and this is especially the case following the parliamentary elections of May 21, 2008. Thus, we are now faced with serious problems in the preparation of news items,” said Megutnishvili. Nonetheless, he added, that expect to resume their work in September.
Before that the correspondents of the “Tanamgzavri” were furloughed from their jobs. Based upon official information, the TV Company has not signed any new employment contracts with its employees. Moreover, based on the request of the board, the journalists are out on furlough for July and August. However, Article 21 of the Labor Code of Georgia employee is authorized to take paid leave – not less than 24 business days per annum. Article 32 of the same code states: “in case of coercive suspension of the employee for his/her labor.” Journalists of the Telavi TV Company are not complaining about the board spite the action is not in keeping with the law.
Gurjaani TV Company ceased broadcasting of the news item on July 11. The company covered several districts in Kakheti region. The company’s journalists prepared news materials everyday and it was delivered once a day at 10:00 PM. Tamar Abelashvili, director of the TV Company “Gurjaani” reported that the news program will start broadcasting in autumn. However, she does not exclude the possibility that the news item will resume working before September 1. Their journalists also had to take furlough.
Independent journalists and representatives of the opposition parties condemn the suspension of the news programs of the regional TV Companies and see it as part of a pattern.
Journalist Ia Antadze, the head of the Public Education Association: “I think when TV Company suspends broadcasting of news programs they cannot realize their function. The main function of the TV Companies, or any media source, is to collect information permanently and provide population with accurate news about the on-going situation. The lack of information because of it being the holiday season cannot be the reason for such a decision, and this is regardless whether or not it is summer or winter.”
Journalist Zviad Koridze: “It is disturbing fact and in the end Georgian society will become indifferent towards provided information. News programs should not cease broadcasting in any circumstances and such thing should not be happening.”
Roman Kevkhishvili, correspondent of the Radio “Hereti” in Telavi: “it is not difficult to collect information to prepare news item or reportage in Kakheti. As for the statement, as if governmental officials often refuse to make comments, which is unacceptable. However, it should not become an excuse for the suspension of the news. I do think that if local TV stations have some problems in obtaining information than the real reason for is their effort to get in good favor with local authorities in order to get funding from the budget. It is clear that in many instances how they generally avoid the preparation of critical materials that is not to the liking of the authorities. Radio “Hereti” does not have similar problems in being able to share the news”
Pikria Chikhradze, one of the leaders of the political union “New Rights”, a former single mandate candidate in Telavi district. “Recently an alarming tendency has appeared in broadcast media. It is clear that those media sources that are easily controlled by the government are now faced with problems and there always there is some reason. It is a pity that they complain about lack of information because there are plenty of problems in Kakheti region. After the elections the news programs should have much to report about, especially if they want to reveal the events and with impartially. However, it is apparent that they do not want or are incapable of working in such a way. TV stations will always complain about lack of information because they cannot get any positive information to feedback and please local authorities.”
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