The given exclusive interview was done 25 August. At that time Giorgi Kalatozishvili was still Director of Dia TV-Company, but was planning to leave the job 27 August. We made agreement to do the interview with him long time ago, but it was always postponed because of him being permanently busy. Meanwhile a lot of questions have gathered in relation to Dia lately. Giorgi Kalatozishvili – Gori University Assistant Rector – is a journalist, PR specialist and movie specialist. He is actively involved in NGO projects. During last several months he has worked as Dia TV Director.
Dia TV was broadcasting in Khashuri for years, but recently the owner of the Company changed and it started broadcasting from Gori. It was said from the beginning that owner of the Company is a person affiliated with the government so the channel would be controlled by the government and the National Movement, while Kalatozishvili categorically denies it. From the beginning of the interview he stated he was ready to answer any questions.
Media.Ge– Giorgi, why did you decide to leave the job? Are there any disagreements with the owner?
Giorgi Kalatozishvili – I have to go to the region fromTbilisi every day. I come here early in the morning and return toTbilisi late at night. You are a journalist and know that when you are a journalist and are also employed at an administrative job the work schedule is unplanned. That is why I sometimes leave here at 2 a.m. Because of the family affairs and different consultation projects I cannot be in Gori permanently and I cannot live here. It is hard driving back and forth. I’m going back toTbilisi and plan to continue my carrier and work there.
Media.Ge– Are you satisfied with results of your work? What did the TV-Company achieve while you were the Director?
Giorgi Kalatozishvili– My goal as of Director and of Ani Shengelia, as of News Chief, who is a good specialist and manager was to create newscasts. The TV-Company aired in Khashuri since 1996 and it was known only by population of Khashuri. Even in Khashuri they rebroadcasted newscasts of other channels. We wanted to create the own newscast of Dia TV which would be 99% oriented at covering regional news. We achieved the given goal. Second objective was improving the quality. We wanted to ruin the stereotype that viewers have in relation to regional TV-Companies; that regional broadcaster means low quality production. We believe that we have achieved the production not less of quality than that national level.
Media.Ge– Still, a newscast without an anchor and just collection of packages is not a complete newscast. What was the reason for that?
Giorgi Kalatozishvili – We faced many technical problems. I’m telling you everything from inside as a Director. We are cooperating with youth centers based on barter principle. (YouthCenter is funded fromGoriMunicipality budget. The Center has journalistic studio with necessary equipment.) We partially use the equipment of the Center and in return air the problem made by them. This is the Five Chests Show, which is an intellectual contest for school children. Like this we have saved money for the new TV-Company. We “borrowed” material-technical base from others and in reality we now have “free” product, which we use in our airtime. By the given agreement both sides won. We are not going to purchase equipment until we become stronger. When you propose your advertisement time to a businessman he in the first place shows interest to your rating, while we cannot offer that to them at the moment. That is why our television cannot be attractive for businessmen. Meanwhile, 99% of revenues of regional TV-Companies depend on business.
Media.Ge – Let’s speak about financial sources now; how do you pay salaries to your employees?
Giorgi Kalatozishvili –We manage the cable television Cosmos, which is owned by Nino Jakobia. Some televisions are circulating incorrect information. We did not buy the given television, we just rented it and it says in the contract that after certain period of time we must return a developed company to its owner. Development means not only increase of the number of subscribers but also improvement of technical basis. (For moment Cosmos has 1000 subscribers and the monthly fee is GEL 7.) Right the cable company is the source of 90% of Dia revenues. Cable Company is a commercial project that brings live money and we invest the given money. In parallel with the work of the television awareness about it increases which must attract representatives of business in order for them to place ads. Additionally there is money coming from central cities. If before there was not alternative to Trialeti TV which has higher advertisements fees than us, now we have took over maybe not 50-60%, but at least 5% of advertisements. Our salaries are not high, but cable television and minor venues rom advertisements allow us to pay our employees.
Media.Ge– You competitor Company claims that Dia is controlled by governmental groups and your editorial policy is not independent, objective and unbiased; that your owner is affiliated with government. What can you say about that?
Giorgi Kalatozishvili – It very hard to speak about independent media today. I as a journalist and PR specialist would like to state that such a thing does not exist today. Unfortunately even the channel like the First Public Broadcaster cannot be independent. Still when we say that television is owned by someone and that person is affiliated with government then we must consider two factors – what moral right does a person making such accusation has and how fair the given accusation is. Being close to government is not necessarily a negative aspect. A person making such accusation polarizes the society himself. In our case our owner is Guram Gogoladze, a well-known businessman and if I’m correct president of one of sports associations. He wants to turn the television into successful project. If the television does not become attractive to society it will never gain reputation and positive image. If the television does not become attractive to business, naturally it will not attract advertisements. That is why for this person it is necessary to find the golden middle. That is why it is not in the interests of the investor for the television to be biased. And the viewers who watch so many different channels are not all the same; naturally for part of viewers one channel looks unbiased for another part another channel. It all depends on our subjective apprehension. I do not recognize objectiveness when we use cut-editing of information. That is where our objectiveness ends. We cover everything without any dosage, although there are exceptions when for example we speak about state policy and we, as editorial staff agree with the state policy for example about relations with Russia. Still, by means of information provision we also cover opposition activities.
Media.Ge– Your relations with the Georgian Dream tensed when your journalist Zurab Zviadauri had a conflict with your journalist and he doubted her objectiveness.
Giorgi Kalatozishvili – This incident created tension. At that time we did not have a logo on microphones; were expecting them from German. That is why it was hard to identify the television. When all those “media groups” act behind the name of media there was nothing surprising in Zviadauri’s fear. I do not mean physical fear. I mean his fear that his statements may be misreported. He could not identify our journalists at that moment but later he gave an exclusive interview to the same journalist in Khashuri later. He met our journalist Tamar Khidasheli very warmly. That is why I repeat that the situation was tensed due to other reason.
Media.Ge– Trialeti TV complained against you three times claiming you do not have a license to broadcast in Gori. You have commented that Trialeti management is trying to discredit Dia, but still the society did not get a clear answer.
Giorgi Kalatozishvili –I will still start from there, give you arguments and prove my position. When you are a monopolist in the region in media sphere and a new player comes in you it is very natural and commercial-type to start a black PR in order to discredit the new player. I will tell you as a PR specialist that we monitored and rationally approached Trialeti’s steps as they were conducting targeted campaign. At that stage there was no reason for them to count that Dia TV was a Titanic clashing into Trialeti iceberg, or vice-versa. They were circulating extremely negative information about us; about the television and the owner and journalists also. Could this have been a moral terror? I think it could have. When you assure a journalist that the television is relative to negative information, that is has governmental image of course it may have negative influence of a journalist that he may refuse to work. I always supported the opposite approach. Even when Trialeti’s employees came to a job interview to me, I would not hire them. I would k them: Does Nanetashvili (Jonny Nanetashvi; Trialeti Director) know that you are looking for a new job? When they answered know and expressed dissatisfaction with their current job I would tell them that as a TV-Company Director I would not do something like that to the Director of another TV-Company. I can repeat this in presence of cameramen and journalists that wanted to move to work for us. We better cooperate at regional level and not fight. Our cooperation meant that we sometimes provided information to Trialeti when they did not have transport to send a crew somewhere, or could not reach information due to other reasons.
Media.Ge – Let’s go back to the license issue…
Giorgi Kalatozishvili – We requested modification of our license at the National Communications Commission. The request was satisfied. So Trialeti better dispute on the given issue with the body that is authorized to issue-modify licenses. We are broadcasting on the frequency that was granted to us legally by the Commission.
Media.Ge – Let’s talk about staffing also. I mean professional level of journalists; do you face problems in this view?
Giorgi Kalatozishvili –We have big problems and the bad role in this was played by certain televisions, media here, as they are “producing” similar journalists. What I mean is that the target always is to bring in information, not to process information and think about quality, which is very bad. We could see this on the next day we hired staff. Many of them did not work even one day. That was because I cannot “fit” such journalists; to be more precise I cannot “fit” the news service to a journalist. This means we are not quality-oriented. In that case we would have different tem p and there would not be a half-an-hour newscast. It was very hard to achieve it. It appeared that journalists cannot even write texts; nothing to say about writing, they do not even know how to bring in information, how to process it. Cameramen have problems with working with lighting; they do not know how to shoot roper images. It is because they have spent last few years just filming weddings. This “stamped” these people. It appeared that cut-editors are almost not available. Journalists do not have any technique of skin questions.
Media.Ge–What do you do to improve the qualification of journalists; to give them professional education; do you have funds in the budget for the journalists to attend different trainings?
Giorgi Kalatozishvili – I have thought about that. When we started taking case of the television and human resources we wanted to motivate the journalists with internal competitions. Additionally we tried to participate in the contests I media sphere. I just do not understand the journalists who request me to send them to all kinds of trainings. I believe some training is not productive when I know what problem a journalist exactly has. At the beginning its better to teach them technical skills. Still everything is related to finances. We have three crews. If I let one go to a training we would need to slow down our work.
Media.Ge– Let us finish from where we started. What are your plans for future?
Giorgi Kalatozishvili – I’m an active person. I always participated in different projects. I am involved in the Hepatitis C treatment advocacy campaign and believe that I am contributing to the given process. I believe it is the time in the country when need for professionals must not be lost. I love Gori very much and I’ve met many very good people here. I became friends with many students from the University. Even the fact that together with Sosiashvili (Giorgi Sosiashvili; Gori University Dean) we increased awareness aboutGoriUniversity, is a very good thing. At the University we have worked out a project for founding practical journalism center. We just need to finish its budgetary calculation. We have hopes or donor organization. Despite the fact if I will be in the region or not we still plan to implement the given project. PracticalJournalismCenter will be one of the sources to train professional staff for regional media.