Speaking to the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB) Gia Natsvlishvili, Director General of Sagarejo-based TV company Tvali admitted that population had no access to the TV signal. On July 8GARB released a video under the title Tvali (Eye) Wide Open.
In the video Sagarejo dwellers state that Tvali has not been broadcasting for several years now. Gia Natsvlishvili, asserting the contrary, points out that the channel was re-broadcasting Rustavi 2 and when holding general broadcasting license the company offered viewers 5-minute news programs digest. Reporting to GARB Khatia Kurashvil press secretary of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) said Tvali presented to the Commission the video that proves that the Channel was re-broadcasting Rustavi 2.
“Our equipments are out-of-date the transmitter’s performance is rather poor as well, hence the population can have no access to the signal, we offer free access but the signal gets lost in five minutes,” Gia Natsvlishvili clarified.
The GARB journalist found it hard to find the address in Sagarejo given on the Tvali website. According to the website the camera crew, with the locals help, found two facilities related to the address, Gamgeoba building and the scrap recycling centre. According to Sagarejo dwellers this building houses Tvali-owned equipments, the journalists though found the rooms locked. The persons in the Gamgeoba building confirm that since 2007 Tvali has not been operating, neither equipments were used.
“The director lives in Tbilisi and never comes here,” Sagarejo Gamgeoba employee said.
According to the GARB story the papers submitted to the Commission include reporting documents according to which the financial turnover of the channel is zero.
“If the television operated the papers should be reflecting the signal transmission and utility costs, remuneration for employees, salaries for news reporters sand technical staff papers show nothing of a kind, accordingly I think this broadcaster was virtually not operating,” expert Ucha Seturi of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information said.
Gia Natsvlishvili alleges that the company employed only two individuals that worked voluntarily and they were producing 5-minute news programs digest.
The GARB journalist points out that notwithstanding the aforementioned the Commission has never through of revoking Tvali broadcasting license.
Ucha Seturi thinks Commission’s loyalty to Tvali could have been politically motivated. To get answer to the question one needs to figure out who the TV company owners are,” says Ucha Seturi. Gia Natsvlishvili is former Kakheti governor and chairman of Olympic Committee.
Giorgi Ratishvili, former head of GNCC’s Regulatory Department says during Irakli Chikovani’s chairmanship conservation of frequencies was a general policy.
“The license should have been held by an authorized individual who would never launch an opposition television and would never criticize the authorities,” says Giorgi Ratishvili.
In the same story Khatia Kurashvili says the Commission is unaware of this kind of information.