Public Broadcaster’s new building will be owned by the state - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

Public Broadcaster’s new building will be owned by the state

15 February, 2018

The research conducted by Transparency International Georgia showed that the land allocated for the construction of the new building for the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) is owned by the state and, correspondingly, the new building will, too, be owned by the state. The state and the GPB management reached an agreement according to which the Broadcaster received the land free of charge “with the right to use”, thus the state reserves the right to manage as it finds appropriate the land that remains in its ownership as well as the building which will be constructed on this land in the future.

The GPB management’s decision delivered a powerful blow to the guarantees of GPB’s independence by providing the state with an additional leverage to exert influence on the activities of GPB in the future.

GPB’s building

There has been talk about the need for a new building for GPB for years now. At the end of 2017, the state and the GPB management agreed that GPB will move to Politkovskaya Street and the state will transfer the land for the construction of a new building to GPB “with the right to use”. To finance the construction costs, GPB is planning to take out a loan. It is planned to complete the construction by 2020.

Currently, GPB owns 33,209 sq. m of land and the buildings on Kostava Street, in a central district of Tbilisi. For constructing a new building, the National Agency of State Property gave GPB 18,761 sq. m of non-agricultural land and buildings on Politkovskaya Street “with the right to use”. Members of the Advisory Board supported this decision at the Board meeting.

Why accepting the land “with the right to use” contains the risks?

GPB received the land from the state free of charge but “with the right to use”. According to the law, this means that the state retains ownership of this land. Along with the land, the building that GPB will build there will automatically become state property.

At the same time, this will restrict GPB in making a whole range of important financial decisions independently, such as using the property as lien for mortgage and/or servitude, pledging or selling it. The state also has the right to reclaim the land and the building from GPB at any time in exchange for an appropriate price will be paid.

There has been talk about a building for GPB in the past several years. As early as in 2016, GPB paid GEL 39,000 for an architectural design for constructing a new newsroom. However, later on, GPB changed its mind regarding the construction, so the amount paid for the design was misused. In early 2017, [GPB General Director] Vasil Maghlaperidze stated that they were not going to sell the building located on Kostava Street and announced a competition for the renovation of GPB’s Building No3 and an architectural design for a new newsroom, which was won by the Tbilkalakproekti Company. The new building design cost GEL 1,179,998 of taxpayers’ money. However, as soon as the tender was completed, GPB changed its decision once again and decided to construct the building at the new address.

The problem of building ownership is not new for Georgian media outlets. Currently, the management of Public Broadcaster Ajara TV and Radio is unable to manage the building and the land of its own television since they are the property of the government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, and the Broadcaster and the local government have not been able to reach an agreement regarding transferring this property to Public Broadcaster Ajara TV.

 

Considering all of the above, we believe that:

  • the decision regarding the state transferring land to GPB “with the right to use” must be changed;

  • the decision regarding a transfer of land/building from the state or any other entity must be made in such a manner so as to prevent any uncertainties regarding the ownership of land or buildings by GPB.