Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili circulated special statement on the closing down of the TV-Company Ninth Channel and news agency Info 9. Media.ge publishes the statement without change.
“Now when my country is facing a very important stage – Presidential elections are closing, our country must pass one test of democracy. These elections must become the prerequisite of the democratic development of our country, of the success of Georgia. We are obliged to hold free and democratic elections according to the rules in order for no one, including voters to doubt their fairness. I realize the great responsibility I have as the head of government and leader of the Coalition.
I always believed and believe now that leaders of a country must not own televisions despite the fact that legislation does not restrict it. For me personally and for my family this is very uncomfortable as I have many times stated.
Upon winning the elections my family and I wanted to sell TV-Company 9th Channel and news agency Info 9 but due to accountability and respect to journalists we prolonged the work of these media outlets for another 10 months. During all this time we searched for a buyer who would take over the media outlets. Friday, 16 August the last potential buyer said no.
On the day I entered politics, in the very first letter I proposed several TV-Companies that temporarily, during election period, I would purchase a television but at that time, due to several reasons they all refused. Everyone knows in what situation opposition had to work in; everyone also knows how much power television has. National broadcasters were controlled by government; televisions worked under enormous governmental pressure and were acting as its mouthpieces. That is why decided for my wife to open a television.
Neither I nor my family has ever interfered with the work of the television – journalists covered processes in the country in unbiased and objective way.
Today, when elections are closing, it is the obligation of the media outlets to objectively cover the election process and of the government to create equal conditions for all the candidates for presidency. That is why it is necessary to sell the above mentioned media outlets in order for voters not to have feeling that the media outlet owned by Coalition leader will create favorable conditions for the Coalition candidate.
As for the presidential candidate nominated by me Giorgi Margvelashvili who is a worthy and the only candidate even without any privileges, I am confident he will by all means win the elections.
My family and I made the decision to starting 1 September close down TV-Company 9th Channel and news agency Info 9.
I would like to thank the 9th Channel and news agency Info 9 journalists and staff the work of who was heroic during the parliamentary elections. Info 9 staff managed to implement one of my main ideas – to oppose the National Movement Zonder brigades with video-cameras. We did not save the money, hired many journalists and opposed one camera against one Zonder. Info 9 journalists in each city, village and in each street recorded the misbehavior by Zonder brigades. For informing the society, for obtaining each shot they did not hold back against any threat and provided unique footage to different information services, including foreign media.
At that period the appearance of the 9th Channel and Info 9 in the TV-space allowed TV-Companies Maestro and Kavkasia to use and circulate to wider audience objective information and footages. I would like to thank them for that.
Starting today, 19 August until 1 September we will do our best to sell these media outlets. This time we propose buyers one-third price of the market value of the television and news agency with their material-technical assets with the condition that a buyer will keep television working and its staff will keep jobs.
If buyer does not appear until 1 September we will be forced to close down the work of TV-Company 9th Channel and news agency Info 9. Despite the fact that legislation does not provide for staff compensation in case of liquidation of organization my family and I have decided to pay all the employees compensation equal to 2 month salary.
I believe that I should not be helping my country by investing in television and media outlets. I will assist my country by implement other, more effective projects.