Independent Media from Soros to Ivanishvili
Thus far the only billionaire George Soros has been spending money on the Georgian media, on January 10 it was made clear that Georgian business tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili too started giving money to media. Both Soros and Ivanishvili are wealthy people and they both evidently know how to make money but what is the distinguishing sign between them? The first one is funding ideas and values and the second one – objects, either animated or inanimate ones. Soros is altruist – spending money without profit while Ivanishvili, prior to appearing on the political arena refused to let independent media close to him.
In particular cases, of course, anyone might be mistaken but in general Soros evidently knows how to spend money, but Ivanishvili – does not! And “advertising deal” made with non-governmental media is clear evidence. If Ivanishvili takes the purchase of the advertising time (space) as a simple commercial transaction instead of a part of a far-reaching plan then he could have closed similar deals with Rustavi 2 and Imedi too. Moreover, through this action he would have avoided the possibility of attaching the label of “Ivanishvili’s media” to so called non-governmental media and evade justification for himself but whatever has been done can’t be done.
Non-governmental media having observed fast on advertising has greedily imbibed Ivanishvili’s money. GEL 750,000 has been shared between independent newspapers, radio stations and televisions. At a glance there is nothing illicit and unnatural with that. Independent media is selling airtime (or newspaper space) and through the income maintains editorial independence as well as impartiality when covering news. The situation is almost similar in the developed democracies where media can be just the arena for political struggle and not a tool but in Georgia (due to our political culture) media is over media. In his first letter (to media representatives) Bidzina Ivanishvili did not conceal he wanted to buy a television to get involved in the political struggle! Taking into account this very circumstance out of the two parties taking part in the “advertising deal” the calculation made by Ivanishvili is far more important than that of media (that might change its character or not).
Ivanishvili is obviously trying to step into the same river twice. As Channel 9 he has already been a part of Georgian media but after the Rose Revolution the channel was closed down without providing any clarification to either the society or the TV staff. Almost 10 years later Ivanishvili is again trying to enrich his arsenal through media but nothing much is being achieved while being dead sure there is no other way to neutralize governmental propaganda and win the elections. Evidently being rich Ivanishvili has no rich imagination (or a plan) that would enable him to get out of the forced game, this is to say he would not be thinking of the televisions through which, like the governing party, he would win the elections. Once Badri Patarkatsishvili (late business tycoon) too, tried to win elections through money and television but running for presidential elections he won just seven percent of votes.
It’s evident new ways and tools of political struggle need to be found. Yet in the last century Albert Einstein, widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time, said the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. In contrast Ivanishvili is not trying (or is unable) to change the rules of game, accordingly there is less possibility of his success in the given struggle but even without that nothing is going to change for the country and the society, in a qualitative sense.
The situation would be radically different if the level of freedom of Georgian media were high.
First of all President would not have been given an arena for apotheosis that martyr viewers of Rustavi 2, Imedi and GPB have witnessed and secondly a person being well-off but poor in ideas would stand no possibility to make a successful political career, simply speaking Saakashvili would not be thinking of staying and Ivanishvili would not be thinking of coming.