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26.12.2012 14:53

Russian Channels to be Carried by Georgian Cable Company Network

Maia Tsiklauri
Media Discusions

In 2012 Georgian cable companies have gradually started carrying Russian news channels including OPT; HTB; PTP, Интересное TВ and Телеканал ДОЖДЬ. Russian news channels were removed from cable companies in the aftermath of the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. The lack of agreements with the aforementioned TV companies was cited as an official reason of the switch-off. In particular cases the cable companies failed to conclude contracts with Russian news channels. Some cable company owners reported on pressure exerted by the former authorities, anonymously though. Accordingly, no substation was publicized.

According to the papers submitted to the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) the cable companies signed contracts with the Russian channels in late 2012 and early 2012.

To enquire about the launch of transmission of Russian-language news channels and future plans Media.Ge talked to the representatives of Silknet, Global TV, Didgori, TV Era and Black Sea Sat.

Silknet’s Commercial Director Nugzar Chinchladze speaks of ongoing talks with Russian channels. At this stage, he said, Silknet is carrying several Russian-language cognitive-entertainment programs including Кухна TВ, Интересное TВ, as well as Russian-language Euronews and ДОЖДЬ. Thus far no contract has been signed with OPT and HTB.

“We are concerned into having every channel included in the Silknet menu to be obtained in a legal an official way. At this stage talks are being on with several Russian TV channels,” says Nugzar Chinchladze. 

From August 2012 cable company Global TV, owned by PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s brother Alexander Ivanishvili, started carrying Russian channels. Prior to August 2012 the channel had been transmitting solely entertainment-cognitive programs, but from August two news channels TВ Центр and OPT have been included.

Zurab Bazlidze, head of Global TV’s Supervisory Board speaks of pressure exerted since 2008 by the authorities upon cable companies, without identifying certain individuals though.

The authorities, he alleged, restricted cable companies to transmit Russian channels. If GNCC noticed cable companies’ willingness for transmitting Russian channels they started responding and creating problems. “They were ambushing our company, and in case they failed to identify violations other agencies started responding. KUD (Constitutional Security Department) and SOD (Special Operative Department) applied direct pressure, telling us why I was creating problems to myself,” says Bazlidze. To avoid problems, he says, said no to transmitting channels. According to the head of Global TV’s Supervisory Board they have been fined for the annulled contracts with the provider company. Moreover, due to the abrogated contracts the company lost a part of subscribers. 

Based on the March 6, 2012 GNCC decision Global TV has been issued administrative responsibility – warning for transmitting Discovery, Discovery Science and Animal Planet to the commercial subjects such as hotels.

The Commission though then clarified that cable companies had not right to transmit the channels they had no contracts concluded with. 

Cable company Didgori Director Kakha Nadiradze speaks of the problems he encountered due to the transmission of Russian channels. Didgori, he said, was delivering his subscribers Russian-language news channel PTP. Even though the company was holding the license to transmit the channel Didgori was to suspend its transmission.

“We faced problems for carrying the channel with the representatives of either KUD or SOD. We have been told we would better not to carry Russian-language news channels notwithstanding the licenses were holding,” Nadiradze says.

In the aftermath of the Parliamentary Elections 2012 Didgori re-launched transmission of Russian-language news channels. At this stage Didgori subscribers enjoy a possibility to watch OPT and PTP. 

GNCC has been submitted the document by Didgori 2 LLC. According to the agreement signed on November 1, 2012 with Cable TV Union of Georgia the company can offer its subscribers PTP programming. According to the contract signed with Geocrift LLC on November 16, the company is entitled to carry OPT.

OPT has been made available to TV Era viewers since the agreement was signed with Geocrift LLC on January 2012. According to TV Era Director Merab Metreveli up to now Georgian cable companies have had no possibility to obtain a license to transmit Russian news channels. We are trying to obtain license to transmit HTB and PTP, Says Metreveli. He rules out political reasons for the suspension of transmission of Russia channels. TV Era, based on the contract signed with Geocrift, is entitled to offer viewers some entertainment-cognitive programs including Карусель, Дом Кино, Телекафе and Музика Первего.

Satellite company Black Sea Sat’s Director Mamuka Tskitishvili say at this stage Телеканал ДОЖДЬ is the only channel available for the company subscribers. “We haven’t offered the news channels such as OPT; HTB; PTP to our viewers due to the lack of license. As far as I am concerned these channels were imposing restrictions, refusing to sell license to Georgian providers,” Mamuka Tskitishvili said.

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