Kutaisi has two weeklies P.S. and Akhali Gazeti (New Newspaper). Along with other problems the two publications face newspaper selling barriers and not enough revenues from realization.
“Newspaper P.S. has not received any subsidy for over a year; it is not using up any grant and survives only by means of own revenues. This in fact means that journalists work only for enthusiasm and with hope for future,” P.S. Chief Editor Nato Gubeladze told media.ge. Circulation of her newspaper varies from 1900 to 2500.
Newspaper P.S. is printed in Tbilisi and along with western Georgia (namely: Samtredia, Vani, Chiatura, Koni regions) it is also circulated in the capital. Nato Gubelani explains that in Tbilisi the newspaper is distributed via Planeta Forte and Elva-Service companies. In Kutaisi the newspaper uses its own distribution network, which also serves other publications and commission received from that is an important part of the newspaper revenues.
P.S. is also distributed to subscribers and the annual subscription fee is GEL 35. Chief Editor claims that the given system is quite problematic, as they have to work for debt and there are often problems with further receiving of payment. For the moment the newspaper has up to 400 subscribers.
“We face serious problems with circulating the newspaper in regions and villages, as there are no distribution agencies in the country which would bring newspapers to villages also, along with regional centers; and the demand is higher in the villages,” Nato Gubeladze said.
Akhali Gazeti faces the same problems. Ia Bobokhidze the newspaper Chief Editor says: “In Georgia there is no unified, independent distribution network which would service all the printed outlets by equal conditions. There is only the Kviris Palitra distribution network, which in fact has a monopoly in the given field. It has its own commercial interests, dominates the market and sets the rules while leaving the smaller publications like ours in unfavorable conditions,” Ia Bobokhidze says. According to her on Mondays Media Palitra Holding circulates only its own production in the network and realizes the other regional newspapers only next day on Tuesday. Along with that for returning unsold newspapers the Holding requests 20% of its selling price. Ia Bobokhidze believes right such problems create unequal conditions for smaller publications.
Akhali Gazeti has 850 subscribers and is printed in 2000 copies. Price of newspaper is GEL 0.70 and its annual subscription fee is GEL 36,40. In 2012 the price of newspaper is to be increased to GEL 1 and accordingly the annual subscription fee will go up to GEL 52. The Chief Editor believes increase in price will not bring negative results as other newspapers are even more expensive and those who will want to buy Akhali Gazeti, will still do so.
As for distribution, in Imereti regions (Samtredia, Terjola, Tskaltubo and Kutaisi) the newspaper manages by its own finances. Revenues received from newspaper realization cover only 3% of total expenses. “The amount is so small that it does not even pay for printing expenses. That is why we decided to increase the price. 30-35% of our revenues come on advertisements, although it also not enough for us to work sustainably. That is why the newspaper functions only by help from donors,” Ia Bobokhidze stressed.
Akhali Gazeti cooperates with IREX Georgia and Open Society Georgia Foundation.
Press is mainly circulated via kiosks in Kutaisi. Main distributor is Sakpresa, owning 16 kiosks. Kviris Palitra owns 3 kiosks in the city. Georgian Lottery Company also owns 20 kiosks in Kutaisi, although newspapers and magazines are sold only from few of them. They mainly sell lottery tickets and cigarettes.
Vasil Meburishvili, head of Kutaisi Architecture and Monitoring Service told media.ge that removal of press distribution kiosks from Kutaisi streets is not on the agenda. According to him, everything is being done for purchasing the press to be more comfortable for the population.
By the May 14 2007 Decree of the Kutaisi City Council, in several locations in the downtown press is also sold from stands. Gulo Robakidze has been selling newspapers from a stand for years and according to her nobody has every interfered with her business. She stressed that Kutaisi residents buy newspaper, but prefer central press to local publications.