On October 12 the Civic Education Foundation, which owns Tabula magazine, has been handed over the broadcasting license (for private general broadcasting №B21, №B91 and №B99) held by TV company Saqartvelo. The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC), with three votes vs one, gave consent on the handover of the license.
Tamar Chergoleishvili, the spouse of Giga Bokeria, Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia is the director of the Foundation and Editor-in-chief of the Tabula magazine.
In response to the GNCC’s decision the Tabula released a statement. The magazine on its website points out that the magazine is going to expand its activities and very soon the society will be delivered information and analysis of interest through television. The agreement over the handover of the broadcasting license was reached between the magazine founder Civic Development Foundation and TV company Saqartvelo, and received consent from GNCC. Tamara Chergoleishvili is not yet making any comments on the future broadcasting activities. Reporting to Media.ge she said that she is abroad at the moment and talk over the future plans when back.
In the course of the GNCC sitting Ivane Samkharadze of the broadcasting regulatory department said that the Civic Development Foundation does not represent the person that might be restricted to hold broadcasting license. Makharadze pointed out that if TV company Saqartvelo hands the license over to the Foundation there will be no breach of Article 80 of the Georgian Law on Broadcasting which restricts concentration of broadcasting.
The only GNCC member who was against the handover of the license to the Civic Development
Foundation was Akaki Sikharulidze. It was not evident, he said, whether the Foundation members opposed Article 37 according to which a broadcasting license should not be held by an administrative authority, officials or employees of an administrative authority.
We know that Tamar Chergoleishvili is Giga Bokeria’s spouse. Thus it’s a little be bit vague whether the handover of the license to her is going to be compatible with the law. Besides, TV company Saqartvelo held general broadcasting license, this is to say the broadcaster was to have at least a news program, this regulation was breached though. Therefore I think Georgia should first make programs compatible with license and afterwards give consent on the handover of the license,” said Akaki Sikharulidze.
Nino Nizharadze, GNCC’s chief specialist at legal department clarified to him that a spouse or a family member is not an interdependent person. And in case the foundation fails to meet the license requirements we can impose a sanction. It is another issue whether TV company Saqartvelo was fulfilling the terms of the license.
TV 9’s lawyer Sergo Jorbenadze spoke about TV company Saqartvelo’s failure to fulfill license conditions. According to him the handover of the Saqartvelo-owned license to the Foundation is unfair. Since Saqartvelo was not meeting the license terms and it was till holding the license. And TV 9, who has been requesting the announcement of contest for six months now and meeting license terms, is being denied frequency by the Commission.
Nino Nizharadze clarified that there is no legal ground for the refusal to the handover of the license. And the announcement of the contest is another issue and the motive fro the handover of one company to another is beyond the competence of the commission.
According to Sergo Jorbenadze TV 9 is going to appeal the decision at court. According to the law he has a right to lodge an appeal within a month.