One of the main challenges of the Director and team of the 9th Channel operating in Akhaltsikhe is to turn the regional media into business and operate without assistance from grants and donors, although, as the Director of the TV-Company Maia Ivelashvili tells Media.ge it is very hard for regional media to gain revenues from advertisement market. For this both media and business representatives must learn a lot.
“It is very hard to bring the “dead” advertisement market back to life; it is also very hard to convince local businessmen that advertisement is good for them and that it is not just wasting money,” Maia Ivelashvili said.
Advertisement Department has been launched in June 2013 at the 9th Channel for using up advertisement market. Advertisement Department staff meets with local business representatives according to preliminarily developed action plan on daily basis. They speak about the 9th Channel activities, importance of cooperation with the TV-Company and propose different advertisement packages.
As the Advertisement Department staff told Media.ge it is hard to convince local business-sector representatives, although the number of interested businessmen has been increasing lately.
For the moment 9th Channel Advertisement Department proposes local businessmen to allocate New Year –related advertisements on TV.
For today 35-40% of the 9th Channel revenues come on advertisements and funds from sponsors. The given amount has increased thanks to activities planned in framework of the Georgian Media Partnership Program. Funds received amounted to 15-20% of total revenues.
“We did not work in advertisement direction before. Thanks to the given Program we started planning in several directions. As result interest of local businessmen increased and volume of advertisements also,” Maia Ivelashvili stressed.
9th Channel is the 2012 winner of GMPP. In framework of the Program TV-Company WICU of Erin, Pennsylvania has been selected at partner of the 9th Channel. Due to existing need, sharing of American experience and planning of specific activities together with the partner have been selected as priority for developing advertisement market. Representatives of partner channels have already met three times. One more visit of Georgians to the USA will be held in February 2014.
Last visit of WICU representatives to the 9th Channel completed 4 December. Meeting with local businessmen was held by WICU Director and a 9th Channel Advertisement Department staff was held during the visit. During the meeting local businessmen got acquainted with the 9th Channel operation and importance of advertisement in business-activities.
According to Maia Ivelashvili, the meeting was quite effective. Development of six-month advertisement contracts with 2 local Companies started. It is also planned to launch two new culinary and sports programs which will allegedly have sponsors.
3 new commercial programs are already being aired by the 9th Channel: Let’s Answer the Kids, Profession and University Chronicles. Idea for all three programs was formed during the first visit of WICU representatives of the 9th Channel (June 2013). During the first visit of the Americans were created indoor and outdoor advertisements of the TV-Company; banners were printed. As they say in the 9th Channel this promotes popularity of the channel.
Considering the US colleagues’ experience and organized by 9th Channel a Meskh Festival was also held on 3 August 2013 (WICU) organizes annual Festival – Wine on Lake.)
“Despite some problems I believe that the Festival was still interesting. We invited all those Companies that are associated with Meskheti region. The Festival was planned with minimal expenses; main was for such precedent to take place,” Ivelashvili clarified.
9th Channel plans to organize Meskh vestival every year.
The TV-Company is also working on a website which will also include live-streaming. Advertisement banners will also be allocated on the website. According to Maia Ivelashvili, this will promote extension of coverage zone. For the moment the 9th Channel website is located on worldpress.com and is a blog.
The TV-Company for the moment airs 11 programs; it employs 5 journalists and 2 cameramen; journalists say it is quite hard to work, but due to lack of funds staff increase is not planned at the given stage.
“We will probably have to add 2-3 new employees due to new programs, but staff increase is still connected to growth of revenues,” Maia Ivelashvili said.
IREX has been implementing the Georgian Media Partnership Program (GMPP) for regional televisions and radios since 2010. In framework of GMPP US regional media companies are selected as partners for 2 Georgian regional TV-Companies and 1 radio. Partners 4-4 visits to each other and during one-week visits partners share working specifics and experience. The Program duration is ten months and is funded by the US Embassy Public Affairs Department.
GMPP has been won by Batumi 25th Channel,, TV-Company Gurjaani, TV-Company Guria, Akhaltsikhe 9th Channel, Kutaisi Dzveli Kalaki, TV-Company Borjomi and Poti 9th Wave.