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31.08.2009 16:40

TV Company Mze

David Mchedlidze
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About a year ago TV station Mze’s (Sun) format was changed; its news service and political talk-shows were shut down. As a result of those changes many professional journalists left the TV channel. "Don’t go down our Sun" was the slogan that the former employees of that TV channel created then, they made a pledge that they’d all return to TV station some day. One year later Mze is not as popular as it was before and it doesn’t shine so brightly; however, the management of the TV station states that the TV company will not go back to its original format. People say Mze was created in order to compete with TV station Rustavi 2. In 2003 many well-known television stars started to work in Mze, it managed to become quite popular in quite a short period of time, some people even thought that Mze represented acronym Mudam Zazastan Ertad (always with Zaza), in this case Zaza was supposed to be Zaza Shengelia, who was a Director General of State First Channel then.

In 2006 these rumors died down when broadcasting company Rustavi 2 purchased control stock of Mze and a Georgian media holding was created. The owner of that holding was entrepreneur Kibar Khalvashi (friend of then Minister of Defense of Georgia Irakli Okruashvili), Khalvashi owned 100% of Rustavi 2’s shares and then 78% of Mze’s shares, these shares were purchased from Saktsementi company. Saktsementi was owned by businessman and MP David Bezhuashvili, brother of former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia Gela Bezhuashvili.

This redistribution of shares was followed by rumors according to which TV company Mze would change its profile and become an entertainment channel, those rumors became reality two years later. Newscast titled Mzera of that TV station was shut down on June 26, 2008. Head of the holding Zaza Tananashvili explained that decision by marketing reasons and stated that it was unwise to have two identical TV channels in one holding.

Today Zaza Tananashvili says Mze was one of the most popular TV channels and sometimes it was even leading the ratings. It owned general broadcasting license and besides newscasts it produced various types of interesting TV programs.

"One day it was decided to shut down the news service. It’s hard to say whether it was a right decision, I can’t say we had had much more income before that decision was made, because news programs required substantial sums of money. We’re still looking for ways to develop. Before we shut down the news service we conducted polls and decided to turn our TV station into an entertainment TV channel. We need time to decide whether it was a right move" – Tananashvili says.

According to him, after Mze was transformed into educational-entertainment TV station it launched quite good projects, for example TV program titled "Proceedings" in association with Supreme Court of Georgia, entertainment program Big Bet as well as TV series for children and youth; besides, the TV channel started to broadcast soccer matches.

When talking about Mze’s owners, Tanansahvili says that information is open for everyone. Mze is owned by Georgian Industrial Group and Dexon Ltd. 45% of the TV station is owned by Georgian Industrial Group and Dexon Ltd. owns 55% of TV station’s shares.

"Who own those companies? You can look them up in the corresponding records. The fact that those companies are registered in Marshall Islands doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong here" – he says.

Currently Mze cooperates with private studios; the TV station adopted that strategy last year. Director General of the TV station says that Mze currently cooperates with about 10 studios, which produce such programs as Pulse, Reliable Auto, Etalon etc. According to Zaza Tananashvili, about 70 people are employed by the TV station. As for the ratings, according to him, taking into consideration the previous year’s ratings, the TV channel holds either 4th or 5th place; however, it has higher ratings on weekends.

"Cento Vetrine - an Italian TV series is very popular; besides, our soccer programs are popular too, such TV programs as Pulse, Etalon etc. have high ratings as well. Recently we produced 12 programs titled Student Democracy, students of various universities took part in it, it’s also quite popular" – Director General says. Mze covers all of Georgia’s territory therefore it stably holds 5-6% of Georgia’s advertising market.

"As for plans for September, we’re conducting negotiations with Lasha Dvalishvili’s studio; we want to have more sports programs on weekends. We’re also planning to broadcast soccer matches of English Premier League and Spanish La Liga. Cento Vetrine will be continued, we’ll purchase several other TV series, TV program Etalon and Student Democracy will be continued too. Most probably our new TV season will be opened in the beginning of October." – Director General of TV station Mze says and adds that it has been firmly decided that the TV station will follow this path and its format will not change.

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