Media Union Obiektivi is located on the third floor of Cinema House in Rustaveli Street,Tbilisi. A floor above in the same building Radio Tavisufeba (Liberty) runs broadcasting.
Visiting Obiektivi at the office of Irma Inashvili, head of the Union I am meeting a citizen willing to be on TV air. Following a few-minute conversation with the TV management and presenters the citizen is promised to be invited to the program to talk about immigration. Later on the Obiektivi staff is explaining to me that their TV air is open to anyone and a lot of people keep visiting them on a daily basis.
Model of Public Broadcaster by Obiektivi
“We are so very open that the people willing to meet with the Obiektivi representatives feel free to enter even my room. An absolute stranger would open the door to ask something. We do not want to restrict people the way other televisions do,” says producer Ilia Chachibaia.
The channel broadcasts live for 14 hours. The company employs approximately 120 presenters. The representatives of different fields represent overwhelming majority – journalists are the minority. Up 50 journalists are employed to work for the radio and newspaper operating under Media Union Obiektivi. On a daily basis up to 20 guests express their viewpoints on air.
According to Irma Inashvili Obiektivi additionally carries educational function. She cites several programs as an example - poet Vazha Otarashvili’s program about repressed generation Apostolic Church and the World, artist publicist Niko Kherkeladze’s programabout Georgian history, telling viewers about some extracts from his book Tears of Sharpened Sworde; former Mkhedrioni member Dodo Gugeashvili’s program 3600 Seconds in the World of Spirituality and the Neutral Georgia party leader Valerie Kvaratskhelia’s program Golden Section.
All of the presenters offer their authorship programs and select guests up to their option. The programs essentially follow same format – the host together with the guest discussed certain topic. Producer thinks that the similarity is due to the only studio available. The key advantage, from his viewpoint, is that Obiektivi broadcasts beyond any limits.
“I used to work for various companies and with Obektivi I felt the breeze of freedom,” Ilia Chachibaia pointed out.
Principles of Obiektivi
The company chief Irma Inashvili, always openly expressing her negative approach to President Saakashvili and former government, believes that its impossible to a journalist to avoid expressing his/her viewpoint over any issue. None-expression of stance is a “hideous standard” that was tried to be introduced by so called ideologists of “neutral journalism” from the 1990s.
“That’s absolute nonsense, falsehood and folly quasi journalistic theory is teaching us that a journalist, based on the material in hand, should alter certain situation in the public-political life,” says Inashvili. Irma Inashvili, having in her interview confided to Georgia’s Prime Minister voting for him, now says that due to that she is not going to feel embarrassed criticizing incumbent authorities they way she used to do in regard to the previous government.
Ilia Chachibaia thinks likewise. None-expression of his/her own stance by the journalist sounds absolutely incredible to him.
“You have got to express your idea whenever needed, you have got to protect the population of your country when they are in need and hope for you. You are special to them since you are talking to them from radio or television,” says Ilia Chachibaia.
Funds of Obiektivi
The operation of Obiektivi-like media outlet, unlike other televisions, does not require much of funds. Donation made by the members is the main income for the Media Union. In December 2012 they said the financial reports of Obiektivi are public and monthly turnover did not exceed GEL 80-92,000. GEL 50,000 out of the given figure was transferred by TV company Channel 9. In exchange for the sum Obiektivi would air Channel 9-produced news program of an hour in length on a daily basis.
Obiektivi is being transmitted by Batumi-based Channel 25 nine hours per day, in return Obiektivi is paying Channel 25 its satellite service fee. A short while ago marketing service was set up, consequently the number of ad customers went up, says Inashvili. Currently only three commercials are being aired.
In the recent period Obiektivi renovated its studio. Even though all of the programs have the same decoration the camera has been added, and the talk show, instead of a single camera simultaneously working on several guests, is on through several cameras.
Everybody works voluntarily except for 50 full-time employees.
Irma Inashvili has a body guard. Obiektivi, she says, decided to hire a guard following the release of a prisoner abuse video released in September 2012.
“I am not protected from revenge therefore my service decided I am worth to be guarded,” says the Obiektivi chief, and thereupon added that the security staff are her friends “For nine years we have been like-minded mates and their remuneration is symbolic.”
Prisoner abuse video
The prisoner abuse video released by Irma Inashvili and her associates ensued enormous public excitement; Ministers and high State officials quit their positions, protest rallies were organized. The Obiektivi team received the footage from Vladimer Bedukadze who after some time alleged that Irma Inashvili sold the footage at GEL 2 mln. The Obiektivi chief refutes the allegation, stating that Vladimer Bedukadze “was grasped by the representatives of various special services who had a negative impact on him and had him misinformed.” That was the ground of controversy between them.
Having arrived from Brussels he was met by a crowd of people. From the airport his car was accompanied by bikers. He does not consider himself to be a hero and thinks that any journalist in his shoes would release the video.
“I did not consider myself a hero even when walking 200 km-s through Chuberi village, having saved many lives on the way. How may I consider myself a hero for participating in this episode?” he says.
“I disliked pompous meeting at the airport. When doing good many enemies start appearing. With such a meeting the number of foes doubles,” says Irma Nadirashvili, thereby clarifying that when getting into the car she did not start crying for feeling touched but for the peril the meeting might ensue. Whatever she feared for has come true, Inashvili said, she was to face blackmails, swear words and pressure.