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18.08.2013 15:33

It’s About Image of Our Company, So We’ll Help Investigative Commission As Musch As Possible- Levan Kubaneishvili

Nata Dzvelishvili
Interview

According to the interim report of the Temporary Investigative Commission of the Parliament, which is currently studying the case of Georgian National Communications Commission(GNCC), the Commission had been lobbying the interests of GMG TV company, and was compelling cable companies to make fettering agreement with it. What is the response of GMG Director General Levan Kubaineishvili to the complaints submitted to the Parliament, what kind of relationship did he have with former GNCC Head Irakli Chikovani, and what was the outcome of the meeting between GMG Director General and the members of the Investigative Commission. Media.Ge interviewed Levan Kubaneishvili with reference to the matter.

 

ლევან ყუბანეიშვილი

According to the interim report of the Temporary Investigative Commission of the Parliament, which is currently studying the case of Georgian National Communications Commission(GNCC), the Commission had been lobbying the interests of GMG TV company, and was compelling cable companies to make fettering agreement with it. What is the response of GMG Director General Levan Kubaineishvili to the complaints submitted to the Parliament, what kind of relationship did he have with former GNCC Head Irakli Chikovani, and what was the outcome of the meeting between GMG Director General and the members of the Investigative Commission. Media.Ge interviewed Levan Kubaneishvili with reference to the matter.

Mr. Kubaneishvili, on August 13 you had a meeting with the members of the Investigative Commission. What was the purpose of the meeting and its outcome?

The purpose of our meeting was to declare the position we had regarding the interim report of the Investigative Commission. The meeting was attended by Tina Khidasheli, Ani Mirotadze and Natia Kapanadze. We told them our viewpoints over the issues, which were described in the report in regard to GMG. For instance the issue of the persons and companies related to the Founder of the company, and, as we had found out, everything therein was in compliance with the law. We came to an agreement over some issues, and that we would provide any kind of information to them. It’s about the image of our company, so we’ll get involved as much as we can in order to help, and provide maximum information to them.

- According to the report, the cable companies Super TV(formerly Aieti TV) and Akhali Kselebi stress in their complaint that GNCC had been compelling them to make a contract with your company. What’s your response to that accusation?

- I’ll start with Akhali Kselebi, the complaint of which in regard to us was quite unexpected. It’s one of our better partners, and we made a contract with them without any issues. The company says in its complaint, that in July 2010 Akhali Kselebi was sanctioned due to the fact that Irakli Chikovani had allegedly found the cable company GMG; being the only one entitled to rebroadcast foreign channels, and that others had been compelled to make a contract with it.

Firstly, in July 2010, GMG wasn’t even founded-and secondly – starting from 2012 GMG has been carrying out the rebroadcast of just one foreign channel, which was Russian CTC.

 - And what about Aieti?!

- We have a legal dispute with them, so I wasn’t by their complaint. It as well presented similar accusations at court, and we were adjudicated by two instances. The case has been forwarded to the Supreme Court.

Super TV had an exclusive relationship with GMG. The contract contained the condition that in case the cable company wouldn’t pay GEL 30 thousands to GMG, it would be then entitled to make a contract with it. In March 2011, only Super TV and GNN were able to pay such amount, and we didn’t make an agreement with the latter, as it had refused to connect us.

The clause was so much burdensome for us, that we had it removed. In addition, it had the indebtedness of GEL 420 to us and we decided to sue them.

After having added GMG to its package the subscriber payment of Super TV had increased.

- Yes, that’s right. Since 2011 we’re no longer in their package, yet, as far as I know, they kept the payment rate unchanged. They as well stated at court, that Chikovani had been compelling to make a contract and that they had been by GEL 1 million. No one called to Chikovani, and he didn’t demand anyone to make contract with GMG.

I personally attended only one meeting with Director Chigogidze. I told him, that we should terminate the contract, but he refused. They, however, had such a huge indebtedness, that I had to appeal to the court.

The report of the Commission as well reads about Guria cable company MADI. Its Director says that first he was detained, and then, in exchange for a procedural agreement, compelled to concede the frequency, which you had bought soon after.

- Complaint by this company was unexpected also, because we did nothing but good to them. When we had bought their license, the price of it was floating around GEL 10 thousands. We paid GEL 14 thousands. GEL 10,000 was the indebtedness to the regulatory body and the rest GEL 4,000 we transferred to their personal account.

None of the founders of our company had any contact with them until November 2010, besides we had no idea about the existence of MADI.

Did you meet MADI Director Avtandil Devidze?

No, Mamuka Gamkrelidze(Founder of GMG) had a contact with him. I know that during that period Mr. Devidze was very happy and satisfied that we’d managed to relieve him from certain financial issues.

Why did you decide to buy exactly the license of MADI?

Mamuka asked Giorgi Ratishvili( former Head of GNCC Broadcasting Regulation Deparment) in September, whether there was any company from which it would be possible to lease a license, as it wasn’t possible to obtain a new one. Such practice was commonly accepted at the time. Some time later, Giorgi informed Mamuka regarding a company which had indebtedness to the regulatory body, and that if we were ready to settle the issue of the debt, we could then contact to MADI.

The Commission has the liability of giving certain recommendations to the companies it regulates. Thus, I don’t think that the involvement of GNCC is a violation. The regulatory body is laid the claim that in January 2010, when the idea of the project didn’t even exist, Mamuka Devidze had been under pressure and detained by SOD or KUD.

We know that GMG was founded in 2011, but when did you decide to found the TV company, when did you start preparatory works?

I met Mamuka in the beginning of July 2010, and shared my idea with him. He liked it, so we made the outline till the end of the month and founded a new company. I assure you, that in January 2010 I didn’t have any idea regarding the foundation of the company, as well as the relationship with Mamuka. I don’t even mention July 31 and 2009, when the inquiry was launched on the case of MADI.

What kind of relationship do you have with Irakli Chikovani?

Friendly one, he’s very close friend of mine. There nothing to hide for that matter. Our relationship started much earlier than a day or two ago. It’s a 20 year long relationship, before the time when Irakli had started working in the television field, and I had had the idea of founding a TV company. If Irakli hadn’t been on that position, I would have started this business anyway. A real financial resource had emerged and I just did a simple business project.

Do you exclude the possibility of Irakli Chikovani’s lobbying GMG?

The name of the person that took the position of the GNCC Head doesn’t make any difference. We had absolutely correct legal requirements, which had to be met by any person being on that position, and it would have been the same within the terms of reference of other institution.

It is as well said in the report, that Irakli Chikovani was promoting GMG’s monopolization on the market.

When we entered the market, the only company which had been restricted broadcasting, by reason of realizing unlicensed broadcasting, were the channels of HTB+. Those rights had been legally obtained by us, and even if the regulatory body hadn’t prohibited them, HTB+ itself demanded restriction of those from whom we he had obtained the rights of broadcasting of those sports events.

Talking about monopolization would be superfluous. Eurosport, for instance, had the right of broadcasting of some events in the territory of Georgia.  The idea of launching any complaint against them didn’t even come to our minds, simply because it had everything in due order. I want to broadcast Spanish football championship very much, but its Setanta that has bought it in Georgian language and I there’s nothing I can do about it, I couldn’t reach an agreement. It wanted it, and got it. Now Silknet as well begins making sports channels. Well, what can I say, all in all it does have the right.

Accordingly, I wasn’t a monopolist. I had the exclusive rights of showing certain events in Georgian language, but everyone willing could have shown the same championships in other languages.

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