According to the Chairman of the Georgian National Communications Commission, Vakhtang Abashidze, Imedi TV has an obligation to have at least one socio-political show in its TV programme line up. Hence, it is obligated to restore such shows in a reasonable amount of time.FactCheck
took interest in the accuracy of this statement.On 29 August 2015, Imedi TV made a special announcement saying that it would stop producing socio-political shows upon a temporary basis. As a result of this decision, two talk shows (Reaction and Imedis Kvira)
were shut down. Imedi TV’s announcement gives the reason for the stoppage as the wish of the company to "create a TV product of an entirely innovative nature." The station’s 4 September 2015 statement says that the company does not refrain from producing talk shows and "hopes that such shows can be aired in October-November 2015."According to the joint statement of the producers and journalists of both the Reaction and Imedis Kvira talk shows, the production teams had no information about the decision until 29 August 2015 which, they believe, raises suspicions that a political decision has been made. On 8 September 2015, on the talk show, Choice,
journalist Inga Grigolia expressed her suspicions that Imedi TV acted upon a political decision, made by Bidzina Ivanishvili. According to Ms Grigolia, she was not notified about the closure of her show prior to the official announcement.According to the information of the Chairman of the Georgian National Communications Commission, the broadcasting schedule, presented by Imedi TV for authorisation on 29 July 2015, featured the talk shows Reaction and Imedis Kvira
as well. According to a member of the Commission, Kakha Bekauri, Imedi TV is obligated to produce socio-political talk shows following the broadcasting schedule presented during the authorisation procedure. In addition, however, the legislation does not determine a specific period of time for the restoration of the talk shows but the position of the Commission is that this must happen within a reasonable amount of time.FactCheck
addressed the Georgian National Communications Commission, asking whether or not Imedi TV was in violation of its legislative obligations. As a response, the Commission forwarded the letter from Imedi TV and its explanation. In its letter to the Commission, Imedi TV asked for an explanation of how long the company could stop producing socio-political talk shows without violating its legislative obligations.The Commission’s response letter indicates that a written explanation was sent to the company informing it of its obligation to restore at least one of the socio-political talk shows within a reasonable amount of time. According to the information provided by the Commission in its letter, it did not set a specific date for the restoration of these talk shows. However, the letter sent by the Commission to FactCheck
says that they consider two months to be a reasonable amount of time.FactCheck
spoke to the representative of the Commission as well who explained that Imedi TV is a general broadcasting company which means that it has concrete obligations. Specifically, according to the legislation, general broadcasting means having two separate types of programmes including news programmes and socio-political shows. According to Article 59 of the Law of Georgia on Broadcasting, a general broadcasting company is obligated to air socio-political programmes in its prime time period. As pointed out earlier, Imedi TV is a general broadcasting company which means that it is obligated by law to air socio-political talk shows in its broadcasting programme line up.
In the case of a broadcasting company’s non-implementation of its obligations, the National Communications Commission is required to send a written warning to the company and determine a reasonable period of time for the eradication of the problem. As a response to Imedi TV’s request, the Commission sent it a written explanation reminding the station of its obligations. The legislation does not set a specific date for the restoration of the socio-political talk shows but the Commission is authorised to set this date. In addition, if the broadcasting company fails to eradicate the problem within the period of time set by the Commission, the Commission is obligated to fine the company.
Conclusion According to Imedi TV’s 29 August 2015 statement, the company would temporarily suspend the production of its socio-political talk shows (Reaction and Imedis Kvira).
In addition, the company "hopes that such shows can be aired in October-November 2015."
According to the legislation, general broadcasting means having at least two types of programmes including news programmes and socio-political shows. Imedi TV is a general broadcasting company which means that it is obligated to air socio-political programmes in its prime time period. In the case of the non-implementation of this obligation, the National Communications Commission is required to send a written warning to the company and determine a reasonable period of time for the eradication of the problem. In this particular case, the Commission did not send a warning letter to the company. The company received a written explanation as a response to its letter.FactCheck will go back to the issue of the restoration of socio-political talk shows on Imedi TV in the future as well. At this stage we conclude that Vakhtang Abashidze’s statement is TRUE.