Solidarity to the Journalists of Adjara TV! - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Solidarity to the Journalists of Adjara TV!

26 November, 2019


Today, on November 22, the Advisory Council of the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Adjara Television and Radio will elect a new director. Transparency International Georgia is closely monitoring the process and is calling on the Advisory Council to refrain from adopting decisions tailored to narrow-party interests that are a threat to the broadcaster’s development, editorial independence and the rights of journalists.

Recent developments around Adjara TV have shown that the government has an interest in changing the editorial policy of the broadcaster. The controversial decision of the GPB Advisory Council to initiate a vote of no confidence against TV Director Natia Kapanadze was part of the attempt to change the editorial policy. Our position is further reinforced by the fact that the former Adjara TV Advisory Council has failed to elect a new director three times, and the Batumi City Court has hastily suspended the fourth contest based on a complaint filed by Giorgi Kokhreidze. Afterwards, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the City Court and now the director will be elected by the newly appointed Advisory Council of the Adjara Supreme Council. These developments have raised a suspicion that the government stalled for time with the decision of the city court and used the court as a political tool. Giorgi Kokhreidze is still participating in the renewed competition for the position of director.

The selection process of the Advisory Council itself, which has to elect the new director, has raised many questions in the public about political bias and the quota system through which the new Council members were elected.

Bidzina Ivanishvili, the chairperson of the ruling party, Tornike Rizhvadze, the Chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, and one of the leaders of the Georgian Dream, Irakli Kobakhidze, accused Adjara TV of pursuing the interests of opposition parties. Whereas in recent years the assessments of local and international organizations have highlighted the tendency of increasing independence and impartiality in Adjara TV. Natia Zoidze, the acting director of Adjara TV and Radio, stated that the government had a goal of seizing hold of the television. Ongoing developments have also left some journalists with the impression that the government had an intention to change the editorial policy of the station.

Transparency International Georgia calls on the Advisory Council to act in the interests of Adjara TV and the democratic processes in their entirety and to appoint a director whose candidacy and professionalism are not questioned by the public. We also call on the new management of the television to refrain from any future actions that would be aimed at dismissing staff members who support critical editorial policies.

Transparency International Georgia is prepared to provide legal assistance to the journalists and staff of Adjara TV and Radio whose rights have been violated.