TV-Company Guria is one of the winners of the Georgian Media Partnership Program (GMPP), implemented by IREX through funding from the US Embassy Public Affairs Department. Cooperation between Georgian and US televisions was launched in framework of GMPP. Partner of Guria TV was American TV-Channel 13 ABC. Visits of employees of the two TV-Companies were organized several times during the course of the Project.
TV-Company Guria was founded 23 years ago and is an information-analytical channel. According to Executive Director of the TV-Company Avto Gvelebiani, they have also had different types of programs: weekly culinary show, youth program – SMS-Show and a talk-show. GMPP program has changed a lot in the work of the TV-Company.
“Working principles of American and Georgian regional broadcasters are very much alike. I have visited several European countries and their working principle is radically difference. That is why it was good that we had an American television as our partner within the GMPP. Their experience has helped to positively change a lot in practice,” Avto Gvelebiani told Media.ge.
Guria TV employees have visited the USA within the framework of GMPP. They got acquainted with the work of American television on the spot; went through trainings in new media, newsroom planning, social media usage and other issues important for the work of a television.
According to Avto Gvelebiani, one of the main advises from 13 ABC was that television must be close to viewers; that is why they have made a new rubric – Your Camera.
“We went out to the town told viewers about common citizens. The project received quite serious feedback. For example, we had a report about a lonely elder who brought up grandchild in a trolley. Many Internet users expressed interest to the problems of the child and provided help,” Executive Director of Guria TV Avto Gvelebiani told Media.ge.
Gvelebiani believes that one of the main aspects of 13 ABC work are its social projects, as frequent contacts with viewers is necessary in the regions, furthermore that central broadcasters have a lot better technical possibilities. That is why Guria TV also launched implementation of social projects, Avto Gvelebiani told Media.ge:
“In their television they collected toys for socially vulnerable children; their television organizes different kinds of social projects and we are trying to practice this in Guria. We have made a similar project once and it appeared to be quite successful.”
US partners helped Georgian broadcaster to improve visuals too. Current newscast of Guria TV is aired with new cover, titles and visualization created by American partners. American partners have also helped Guria with new equipment.
Separate part of GMPP was dedicated to trainings in management. The Project was aimed at increasing effectiveness of sales and attraction of sponsors. Avto Gvelebiani believes that GMPP was profitable for the television in this view too, although the financial side is still a challenge for the television. Gvelebiani told Media.ge that Guria TV is an independent media outlet and their budget depends on advertisement revenues, while local manufacture and business is not developed in Guria region.
“We do not air “mourning announcements” which is the largest source of income for other regional media outlets. We do not receive orders from public bodies; we have received only GEL 20 from local budget. Our revenues are made up of NGO grants and advertisements. Advertisements are mainly ordered by large companies, as local business is not that successful, while local business situation has mirror effect on the development of regional televisions.”
There is lack of funds in the television and they are expecting switchover to digital broadcasting with fear; switchover to digital broadcasting is to take place in 2015. According to Avto Gvelebiani, preparation for digital broadcasting means need for additional resources.
TV-Company Guria continues working with cut down staff in January 2014. 7 employees have been dismissed from the television starting January 2014.