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20.05.2010 12:36

Maestro TV with New Plans

David Mchedlidze
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The Maestro TV reorganization process is drawing to a close and from mid May the audience will be offered renewed programming. According to Maestro TV Director Kakha Bekauri Maestro TV will be much alike CNN and FOX NEWS.

The TV company moved to a new office located in Nutsubidze street. The second floor in a three-story building is occupied by the studio and editing rooms. Installation of decorations is still being on so it is yet hard to picture the final image of new Maestro TV. When entering the office everything speaks about preparation for changes.

Maestro TV was founded in 1995. First there was just a studio producing comic-satiric and cognitive-entertainment programs being aired through the former state channel.

In 2001 Maestro, still a studio by the time, obtained airtime on First Stereo TV and launched the broadcast of music programming. Three years later the studio with the same programming moved to Eurika TV but its coverage area was limited to Tbilisi and its surroundings.

According to Maestro TV co-founder Mamuka Glonti, Maestro was the first TV having aired a live show Matani in the Georgian TV space. They were the pioneers as a musical-entertainment channel.

Maestro TV was transformed into a cable TV channel in 2006. As a result the TV company launched its programming, through local providers, in other cities too.

In 2007 Maestro TV management decided to change the format of the channel into a public-political channel. In this regard Maestro TV appealed to the Georgian Communications Commission (GNCC) for either the modification of the license or granting a new one.

The decision to be made by the Commission took a while. Within this period Maestro TV launched new programs such as Profession of Journalist, No Comments and Opinion Polls. Political programmes appeared too. Maestro TV management clarified the protracted GNCC response as a politics-related. The TV staff held protest rallies demanding the protection of freedom of speech. They enjoyed support of media and opposition.

In 2008 the Parliament of Georgia showing its political will gave recommendations to the GNCC on granting Maestro TV a right to produce public-political programs on the basis of a relevant license. Afterwards the TV company started covering news and later on talk shows too appeared on its airwaves.

In November 2009 Maestro was handed over, with a three-year management rights, to Rustavi Media-Management Company founded by Erosi Kitsmarishvili, former co-owner of Rustavi 2 TV and Georgia's ex-ambassador to Russia. The managing company decided to address financial crisis of the TV company through the improvement of its management and the renewal of its air. Within the same period a special bank account was launched to support the TV company. But the company owners remained the same. According to Mamuka Glonti the whole TV company share is equally divided among 10 owners, 10% for each.

The new management kickstarted TV reorganization process.

According to the TV Director Kakha Bekauri the reorganization process is drawing to a close, 24/7 renewed broadcasts will include political talk shows too.

Kakha Bekauri hopes the new TV air will enable them to attract advertising. According to him the advertising market of Georgia amounts to USD 40 mln and its 5% would make the TV company self-funding.

A significant portion of airtime, around eight hours, is going to be apportioned to foreign news outlets. The TV programming will be filled with talk shows, at the initial state from Monday to Friday, two political talk shows will be on air. In addition one-hour news outlets will be aired twice in the evening air.

The weekend air will be filled with analytical programs. From September Maestro is going to be back on air with a far more diverse TV production.

From early May 24/7 satellite broadcasting that will cost the TV company around USD 150,000 annually.

As regards re-branding-related expenditures, Bekauri said, they are not going conduct spacious marketing activities and are not either going to use the services of expensive companies when promoting the channel. At this stage all the expenditures are being covered by Rustavi Media-Management Company having exclusively purchased the advertising time. Maestro essentially cherishes hopes on advertising.

"Businessmen being terrorized is a legend, only 30% of our advertising volume is being controlled by the authorities, the remaining portion includes international brands free from government's influence," said Bekauri and added their main customers will be foreign companies whose advertising budget is being controlled by central branches.

According to Tamar Rukhadze, Head of Maestro TV information service at this stage they face no problems with the news production, they are on good terms with all governmental branches and all the events are being covered as far as possible. All crucial issues will be raised on the renewed TV air and they are going to maintain previous criticism, Rukhadze said.

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