Try to See Larry
You’ve probably heard Larry King has become member of the Board of Advisors to the 9th Channel. To tell you the truth I was surprised with the given fact at first, just as I thought it was odd when Rupert Murdock showed interest to Imedi TV several years ago. Later, when I heard King’s and several other members of the international Board of Advisors (at least two of whom are not less than Larry King by their professional merit), it made me laugh. Epithets made in relation to the 9th Channel: “independent”, “free,” “protector of interests of Georgian people” and so on really did sound funny. Apparently the owners of the given channel have the same messianic passions, as at one time those of the “victorious people’s television,” ex-minister’s Imedi and (in its own way) Public Broadcaster. Actually it is not surprising as all political parties get into our lives with the same messianic ideas and those televisions, as kind of committees of political parties, repeat their policy.
So, they just probably explained to the Advisors that they are independent and free and advisors repeated what they heard. I doubt that King, Robert Mennard, or Lee Hamilton have ever fallen asleep watching the 9th Channel. They have probably just seen several videos translated into English and provided to them by the channel management. Still, I doubt that Bekauri would ever translate and show them Vasiko Maglaperidze’s “drama” programs, or Anatomies made by Natia Mikiashvili with hatred. The management probably would also never tell the Advisors that Georgian Dream is just as overwhelming in the newscasts of the given channel as Saakashvili’s pink shirt on national broadcasters.
It was even more ridiculous when several passionate supporters of the government tried their best and in a couple of hours after Larry King was named member of the Board of Advisors, they showed me the photo of the celebrated CNN program host and philanthropist made at one of Police Stations. Most probably they will soon find relative ties between Vladimir Putin and Les Gelb, through their great grandmothers; or even better, presa.ge will post Bidzina Ivanishvili’s handwritten “black accounting” another paper showing amounts paid to the advisors.
According to the Director of the channel Kakha Bekauri, the International Board of Advisors will gather as many times a year, as necessary; although, what can these names celebrated in journalistic circles be the guarantee of when working in Georgian media jungles for these people will mostly be an exotic trip rather than a serious job. How can the Board of Advisors be the guarantee of anything when the political interest of the 9th Channel is even more apparent than that of government-controlled channels?! How can I believe that the given “unprecedented event” will improve Natia Mikiashvili’s program, or explain to Vasiko Maglaperidze that Turks do not bite? Or will it restrict the government from acting the same as with Imedi in 2007 and stop it from threatening advertisers?! No, this probably looks more like façade repairs when building is without base. Meanwhile all the sides take equal part in ruining the base; it is just that one side has more resources than another.
It is unfortunate that it has not been managed during last 20 years to create a really independent information type television. It is also unfortunate that as soon as an oligarch wishes to open a television (or a little later) they immediately get political ambitions. But, probably for this not to happen like this we must have a better country, with a little better government, independent court and free advertisement space. In parallel to all this people must have more sense of responsibility and to be more precise the civil society.
Existence of the 9th Channel in such a limited area (which will be even more limited after the elections) I think is a positive event, at least due to elementary moment of justice. It would be foolish to see a competitor to Real TV if, of course, you are not Tabula Magazine editor, or author. At least they have not put artificial Saakshvili on air on this channel and have not forced anyone to shout “Ivanishvili my president.” Complaining about the problem of balance is already late. If the television from inside does not want to be more balanced and impartial no researched funded by the UN and even thousands of Larry Kings will be able to help it. Rustavi 2, Imedi TV and the Public Broadcaster are the good examples of that.
P.S. Quite soon we will see what will be the results of Larry King, Lee Hamilton, Les Gelb and Robert Mennard to join Tamta Sanikidze and Eka Beridze in Georgian media space. Until then I would advise you to sign the petition on Must Carry - https://www.change.org/petitions/must-carry-must-stay.
P.P.S. What does Giorgi Margvelashvili have to do with all this, I just can’t understand…