Sergo Fidanyan’s working day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at midnight, or 1 a.m. – he is a cameraman of Akhaltsikhe TV, Ninth Channel (TV-radio company Imperia). As there are only two cameramen at the channel and the second one is part-time Sergo has to shoot all day long.
Journalist of the channel Shorena Surmanidze, just like other five journalists is a producer, anchor and cut-editor of her show. Shorena is also responsible for her design and makeup.
“It is not easy when you work on a story all day after you edit it and in the evening you have to anchor a show, after which you have to plan the next day. It has often happened when we had to work until 5 a.m. and I didn’t even go home; what is the point in going home for a couple of hours?!” Shorena says.
As result the Ninth Channel the Georgian language broadcasting program of the Ninth Channel consists of news, morning show and seven shows prepared during a week; population of Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni and part of Aspindza is able to watch the channel. The Region TV channel takes up rest of the broadcasting time of the channel.
Ninth Channel broadcasts from the building of the Drama Theatre of Meskheti. The broadcaster occupies a newsroom, broadcasting room and one studio. All the shows are recorded, or broadcasted live from the mentioned studio.
According to the Director of the Ninth Channel Maia Ivelashvili they have several advertisements, although the revenues from advertisement selling are so low that it does not cover the broadcaster expenses. That is why the Ninth Channel works mainly thanks to the grant amounts. Maia says that these grants are not enough to develop the channel. “Grants are enough only to pay salaries and “technical re-equipment.”
“We think a lot of how to make something out of nothing. For example year and a half ago it cost only GEL 87 to make the morning show studio; we brought materials from home and made the stage ourselves,” Lasha Butulashvili, technical director of the Ninth Channel recalls.
The Morning Show starts at 9 a.m. every workday and consists of four rubrics. Viewers receive information about ongoing news, economics, tourism and new technologies.
“In the Morning Show we speak about talented people who have outstanding skills. In this process we found persons that we would never think of – people who assemble cars themselves, children having invention skills,” Ivelashvili says.
Once a day, at 10 p.m. there is a news program Echo, consisting of at least four video-reports; the news is generally locally oriented.
“We report the news from other parts of the country only in case if it concerns the whole country – for example adoption of a certain law. Countrywide news is available for the audience from the Region TV news programs,” Director of the broadcaster explains.
Daily collecting stories for the news program in a region where not many events take place is not easy, as the Ninth Channel journalists say. They search for the stories in the region villages. As result social issues are more often covered in Echo, than for example political.
Analytical program Weekly Digest covers the important events that take place during a week.
A talk-show Dialogue is dedicated to ongoing important topics and agricultural issues are discussed in the show Farmer’s Hour.
“It is not easy to make a show every week having new guests every time. We do not even have experts in Akhaltsikhe. We often joke that we have made experts here,” Ninth Channel Director says.
Ninth Channel also makes documentaries on Samtskhe-Javakheti history. The documentaries are aired once a week.
“We have made 8 or 9 movies. The documentaries are not based just on myths and legends, they include historical facts so it is quite a complicated process,” Ivelashvili says.
The channel also has entertainment shows. The broadcaster has Russian Eralash type orgram Antsebi and Geostar type show Merry Notes.
The Ninth Channel founded in 1996 has been broadcasting with a renewed format since 2010. According to the 2011 survey conducted by the Peace Caucasus and Democracy Development Institute the 55% of local population watches the channel.
The Ninth Channel does not have its website although viewers can watch TV programs at the following blog - http://imperiatv9.wordpress.com/.
Program diversity is the objective of the Ninth Channel. Maia Ivelashvili believes that the channel lacks economic and youth intellectual shows. She believes that 2015 when it will be necessary to switch to digital broadcasting will be a great channel for regional broadcasters.
“Along with technical re-equipment there will also be a programmatic problem – regional TVs use a lot of unlicensed movies and videos now. Switching to digital broadcasting means purchasing all this officially which is now unaffordable for us,” Ivelashvili says.
Now the Ninth Channel airs only the news program. The channel will start full broadcasting on January 30. January is a non-active period in the region by means of public life so Maia Ivelashvili has decided to have a one-month vacation.
“We were very exhausted so we probably needed this rest,” journalist Tiko Kurtanidze says, who has been working the channel for four years. Despite the fact that she thinks she has realized herself in the given profession in two years she plans to change the job.
“When I use up the perspective of professional growth here I will leave. It is very hard to work here, we are too busy. It is very hard to be a journalist, anchor and producer at the same time, no other profession can be compared to this,” Kurtanidze says.
Despite the fact that cameraman Sergo Fedanian does not plan to continue his carrier in the Ninth Channel he is still happy with the busy schedule as he gains a lot of new skills:
“I have learnt studio cameraman skills, news cameraman skills, artistic shooting, working on documentaries. Such a busy schedule is of course stressful, but I probably even like it.”