After Luba Eliashvili’s appointment to the position of Director General of TV company TV 9 and following some of TV employees’ decision on quitting the channel numerous complaints have been voiced against her. To enquire about her responses, the way the reorganization process is on, the changes planned and the funding policy to be Media.Ge interviewed TV 9’s Director General Luba Eliashvili.
Prior to being appointed to the position of Director General you have been Deputy Director General for news policy. Hat did your duties and responsibilities include?
To develop future strategy. Mr Kakha always thought I was to sit at newsroom and keep control over news. I was against it – I was refusing to sit in the newsroom, telling him I was responsible for discussing various issues such as the type of talk we needed and their frequency.
After quitting the channel Tamar Rukhadze, former head of news service said you demanded positive reporting on the Georgian Dream coalition, is it true?
Tamar Rukhadze lied. Nothing of the kind. The only remark I made in regard to a very handsome journalist to me was just an ordinary conversation between colleagues and ensued no sanction.
Why was it needed to replace Director General?
It’s up to the founder.
Did he make a decision on your appointment?
Yes. After Kakha Bekauri quit the channel I was automatically made into acting director general and on December 5 I was officially appointed to this position.
At the very first meeting with the staff you demonstrated discontent to the rating of the channel, stating “snobbish news” were being produced.
I have got ratings which made me demonstrate my discontent as a Deputy Director General, suggesting to jointly work on raising this rating. What’s wrong with that? Bu the way Kakha Bekauri had no conversation with the journalists at all. A day earlier he lied on air when saying that his resignation was just rumors. I was alone when meeting with the employees to tell the truth. Why isn’t anybody asking Bekauri why he lied on the previous day?
Having quit the television a lot of accusations were voiced against me. Quasi I am taking part in a filthy campaign. Presa.Ge published material which was another filthy campaign against me. Statements by Tamar Rukhadze, Kakha Bekauri and Natia Lazashvili were cited. Since their incomprehensible accusations against me ere published can I say that they are participating in a filthy campaign against me? Why so much excitement for a kind letter in the newspaper? My channel aired the biggest share of abuse. Gradually they gave up, since they see I am no vampire and I am not eating anyone’s head.
When serving as Deputy Director General have you ever voiced similar complaint over the rating of the channel?
Yes, I have. I disliked morning program, as well as the feedback it received on social networks.
What was the first thing you changed after your appointment to the top position?
The first thing I managed is that the colleagues finally got to know one another. Now there are more smiles visible on the area.
As regards programming, are any programs going to be added, what is going to be changed?
I am working on it now. I am seriously planning to offer the programming and make the TV company work.
What do you think, why your relation with the team, that left, did not work after your coming into top position?
Because they are each other’s friends and seemingly Kakha Bekauri’s friends too. It’s a friendship decision. Anyone has a right to work with the one s/he likes.
When appointed to the top position you said the channel was to be made into general broadcaster….
The channel was on air as a general broadcaster but based on an absolutely imperfect concept. Mr Kakha would say he was building news channel, I believe not so many events are taking place nationwide to have them constantly on. Bragging you are a cool TV when having “trial broadcasting’ brandished on, I don’t think that right. I do hope this kind of broadcasting will be over within three months time. Soon news will be aired on a hourly basis.
News on an hourly basis, this is to say it will be a news channel.
Yes, news program will be aired hourly but not nonstop, with newsreaders over-exhausted for hysterically re-reading the same. I don’t think that’s right. After delivering news for 15 minutes you can offer viewers something interesting.
Are you pleased with the new morning program?
The morning program was launched under extreme conditions. At this stage I think it is much better compared with the previous one. Mane think likewise. As far as I am concerned the number of our website users has gone up too. And rating has not gone down either.
The new premises in Dighomi were arranged for news production. Does it mean the money was embezzled?
No way. The office is very good. And it means hourly news will be easily aired together with talk shows, morning program, in a little bit different form though. Please, forgive me, but watching a person just reading newspapers on air and expressing one’s opinions is not correct.
What else have you changed on the channel?
Many new faces have appeared, we have opinions of various individuals. I don’t think just one or two well-known journalists should be the faces of the channel. I am for TV 9 similar to former INFO 9. Accessible to anyone.
A journalist should be first of all the deliverer of news. I don’t understand having a journalist in the studio waiting for the news from the agency. I want a television with journalists obtaining news themselves and the news then will be most valuable.
I think the presenters enjoyed huge phone limit, while they actually do not have to make calls over business-related issues. Journalist need more phone limit. I have settled that issue too.
That weird distribution will be no longer in place either – some dashing out from morning to evening for minor salary and some “shining” on air for just three hours in exchange for immense remuneration.
So the remuneration policy has been reviewed too?
Yes, of course. My salary as a Director General is four times less now. Today we have salaried the employees deserve.
Some regional bureaus were closed down, why?
Seven bureaus were closed down, 15 are still operating. Just because there have been a lot of them. Maybe there was a need in the pre-election period due to lots of new happenings. Not that much now.
Has there been a decrease in TV 9 funding?
TV funding is up to founders. I have a solid plan, to replace certain percentage of grants by adverting revenue. And this percentage is to gradually boost. For development it’s highly important to strengthen this channel on the market to minimize revenue from grants.
TV 9 and INFO 9 cut the number of bureaus, INFO 9 merged with TV 9, does it mean that after winning elections Bidzina Ivanishvili simply no longer needs news outlets?
No, Ivanishvili did not say anything over the decision. No such approach demonstrated by him, in regard to increase or decrease in anything. If the share of grants is huge I will fail to secure increase in advertising revenue. If I enter management that’s my term, sitting at a loose end, waiting for the money to come does not sound right to me. There should be certain terms between manager and founder to be fulfilled.
Thus, the decrease in funding and increase in advertising share was not Ivanishvili’s requirement?
No, we have had no talk over that.
Does the Supervisory Board manned with foreigners still continue to work?
I talked to Mr Menard. He is planning to arrive in Georgia after New Year’s. I asked him to Google Luba Eliashvili and Iberia before paying a visit to Georgia to have an idea about me. As regards other members of the board I am dealing with the relations with them. Giorgi Margvelashvili’ss post is vacant. I think the number of Georgian members should increase.
Were any particular recommendations provided by Supervisory Board?
With Mr Kakha. I have had no possibility to communicate with them.
Can you, as a Director General, tell us that TV 9 is not loyal to the government and editorial policy is secure?
After my appointment to this position I have visited newsroom just about three times. Imeda [Imeda Darsalia, head of news service] too has visited me likewise. TV 9 is not loyal to me, let alone government.