Temporary Investigative Commission for Studying Activities of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) accuses Rustavi 2 in receiving indirect funding from the State Budget. Commission Chairperson Tina Khidasheli has stated that Rustavi 2 Director General Nika Gvaramia is the only one not cooperating with the Commission. What does Nika Gvaramia have to answer to Tina Khidasheli, did the private television really receive funding from the state budget and was it a political step to appoint Nika Gvaramia to his current job? Rustavi 2 Director General answers Media.ge questions.
- Mr. Nika, Chairperson of the Temporary Investigative Commission of Parliament Tina Khidasheli claims you are the only one not cooperating with the Commission…
- This is a lie. I regret that Mrs. Khidasheli who is an MP and has to have more responsibility when making statements, lies so simply. Rustavi 2 not only cooperates but even hints the Commission on how to obtain this information.
To clarify shotly, Mrs. Khidasheli has requested information commercial secret of Rustavi 2. Rustavi 2 has no right to issue such information based on any request, including from an authority; only if requested by tax or investigative bodies, court and parliamentary temporary investigative commission. That is why we asked them for the Commission decision on making such request.
Unfortunately in the first case we received a letter only from Sagarejo majority MP Mrs. Tinatin Khidasheli. It was a text written on an MP’s letterhead. I have been an MP and can identify what kind of documents we receive. Later we received a letter from the Chairperson of the Commission. I would like to explain to Mrs. Khidasheli that Commission Chairperson is not a Commission. We must act according to Commission decision which is made by majority of votes. We requested such a decision.
I would like to ask a very logical question – why was it a problem to send such a document instead of Mrs. Khidasheli’s letters? We have not received such a document yet so we will not issue any information. I, as a commercial manager, do not have an authority to give out information containing commercial secret of my Company, in this case a television. If someone else has done that it is their problem and I do not care about it. I act according to my competence and will never do that.
-If they send a letter from the name of Commission will you agree to cooperation?
- It is not about me agreeing to it; I will have an obligation and I do not intend to violate the law because of Mrs. Khidasheli. I have nothing to hide.
- Tina Khidasheli has also accused Rustavi 2 in receiving indirect funding from the state budget…
- First of all, why is it Rustavi 2 problem if someone made an incorrect transfer and made an expense on behalf of the State? They should ask the one who did that. This in general and as for these facts specifically, I do not confirm them. Nothing like that has happened. To be clear, it is a lie. I do understand what Mrs. Khidasheli needs to circulate such information for.
She also has stated that she intends to call me to interrogation; I would like to advise her to read well the Regulations of Georgian Parliament. The procedure that she is calling me to is not interrogation. The given procedure is called taking explanation. Interrogations are conducted by law enforcing bodies. If she thinks she is a prosecutor that is also the problem of her ambitions. She is the Chairperson of an investigative commission so she must invite me according to regulations and take explanation from me and not to interrogate me. This is just a clarification for lawyer Khidasheli.
- For years Rustavi 2 has been being accused in working in the interests of the National Movement. What would you say about the editorial policy of Rustavi 2, how independent is it?
- I do not want to go back to past; it is not the sphere of my interest. I can speak about Rustavi 2 only since I have taken responsibility for the functioning of the Company. Today Rustavi 2 is the only channel with balanced information policy and I would even say the channel with world standards and not only by means of information but by means of any TV-production. We do not plan to be biased in relation to forthcoming elections unlike other TV-Companies which are already biased. I am proud of this channel.
- You have been Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and today you often criticize the government and governing party. Don’t you think your attitude influences Rustavi 2 perception and attitude of the public to the given channel?
- I do not criticize the current government; I criticize them due to specific decisions and as a citizen I have the given right. This has nothing to do with Rustavi 2 information policy. I am not a journalist. News service is an independent department of this television. I do not think that is a problem.
In addition, I do not criticize certain decisions of not only this government but of the previous one too. I am a critical person and I had certain critical attitudes even when I was member of government; I have never concealed that and have never been a comfortable member of government.
- Your appointment to the given position came as surprise for many. Some even said that the National Movement knew about the start of investigative proceedings against you and you were appointed as director of television in order to later assess your detainment as pressure on media.
- I would like to remind everyone that investigation against me was not even launched when I was appointed Director of the television. I was first interrogated in December and aside from that I have never used and will never use Rustavi 2 for my personal interests; for example for covering my trial specially. Naturally it is an absurd. I was detained right because I am Director General of Rustavi 2. They detained me for such an absurd that legally they will have problems with proving it.
- At what stage is your case now?
- It will complete in September. I’m almost sure that it will finish good. I plan to speak about this case in detail after my trial is over and I will make very serious accusations against specific persons; including on the level of international courts.
- Research published by the Transparency International Georgia has shown that Rustavi 2 is the television with highest revenues. How have you managed to increase revenues while the advertisement market in general has decreased?
- If I was appointed due to political reasons than my managerial success would be illogical. It could be either first or second. They appointed me because they hoped Rustavi 2 would become financially stronger and editorial policy would be balanced.
I’ll tell you directly that Rustavi 2 is the only self-sustainable television and all other televisions need investments, including our closest competitors. They flow money in all and this money is of political origins. Accordingly, speaking about independence of those channels is nonsense. Look at editorial policy and you will see if Rustavi 2 is politically biased or not. After this answer me if my appointment here was advisable or not.
- What new projects do you plan in the new season and what innovations will we see on your channel?
- In the new season we have Giorgi Gabunia’s new political talk-show which will replace Nino Shubladze’s talk-show Position on Tuesdays. Position will be aired on Friday and will summarize a week. There will be entertainment projects also. We will keep the old ones and will air the new series; it will be made by Formula Creative by participation of very celebrated stars. We will also have several new nonpolitical programs.
- Do you plan to add educational programs? As we know you have proposed Gogi Gvakharia to make ‘Namedni’ type program.
- We plan to propose viewers programs in that direction. Unfortunately Gogi has not replied yet. I want to make such program very much and for Gogi to be its author as I believe he is one of the best tellers and writes very well; he is an interesting person in general and I would be glad to give him Rustavi 2 air-time.
- What are your short and long-term plans?
- The short-term plan is to win this season seriously. The long-term plan is for Rustavi 2 to always be first television and for revenues to allow it to be so in order not to need different types of help from outside as it always created questions by means of editorial policy independence.