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10.08.2013 10:31

Temporary Investigation Commission Accuses GNCC of Defending Interests of GMG

Nata Dzvelishvili

GMG 2013

The Temporary Investigation Commission of the Parliament, which is studying the activity of GNCC, is accusing the Communications Commission of defending the rights of Global Media Group(GMG). The commission stresses in its interim report that it has received a number of complaints against GNCC.

Among those having submitted complaints against GNCC is Founder of Super TV Zurab Chigogidze. In his complaint he says that in February 2011 Irakli Chikovani, GNCC Head of that time, compelled him to make a fettering agreement with GMG, which damaged his company by GEL 500,000.

According to the report of the commission, the meetings at GNCC mentioned by Zurab Chigogodze and the periods of the compulsion realized afterwards, fully coincides with the period of the sanctions imposed by the regulatory body upon the company, “and the appropriateness of those sanctions is questionable and discriminative,”- members of the Investigation Commission stress.

Akhali Kselebi LLC as well speaks about artificially giving preference to GMG. Its representative says in the complaint forwarded to the Investigation Commission, that “Irakli Chikovani had founded GMG, and based on the reason that the company was allegedly the only one entitled to rebroadcast foreign channels, they compelled other companies to make contract with them.

By the decision from July 16, 2010, GNCC penalized Akhali Kselebi for the violation of the copyright and neighboring rights. The company considers the decision as unlawful, saying that it was done for the purpose of creating favorable conditions for GMG. According to the statement of Akhali Kselebi, the obligation of the submission of the documents regarding the issues of the  copyright and neighboring rights simply didn’t exist in 2010.

“Suppose the Commission had the right of imposing sanctions with reference to the copyright and neighboring rights until December 20, 2011, i.e. until the changes had come into force, and, accordingly, the authority of requesting complete information from the companies and to carry out a monitoring; but it turned out then that no big national broadcaster had been subjected to such monitoring, and that administrative proceedings were launched only against small companies and cable TV providers?”- reads the statement of the Investigation Commission.

The Investigative Commission as well connects the case of MADI LLC, a cable company located in Adjara, with the issue of lobbying in favor of GMG. According to the report, “the regulatory commission remembered by the end of 2009 that MADI LLC had been illegally broadcasting since July 14, 2004”, and launched an administrative proceeding, but ceased it, however, shortly afterwards. Nevertheless, MADI was later penalized by GEL 10,000, which it hadn’t paid out during 10 months, “yet there was no reaction on the part of the Commission, which in other instances was always imposing higher sanctions for each day of delay”- said in the report. In 2010, GMG paid to the budget the aforementioned sum as the price of the transfer of license it had with MADI.

Director of MADI Avtandil Devidze stresses in his complaint forwarded to the Investigative Commission, that the Chief of Guria Kud(special forces) exerted pressure on him. A revision was launched in MADI, as a result of which the shortage of GEL 43 thousands had been discovered, and Avtandil Devidze was arrested on January 15, 2010.

According to Devidze, he was told that the only condition of the procedural agreement was conceding of his television share. Devidze says that at the end of 2010 Giorgi Ratishvili, Head of the Broadcasting Department of GNCC, arranged him a meeting with Founder of GMG Mamuka Gamkrelidze, and notified him that “in order to prevent future problems he should concede his general broadcasting license to that person.”

The cable company GNN as well says that Irakli Chikovani was exerting pressure in order to have GMG connected. In its complaint submitted to the Investigation Commission of the Parliament the company says, that it was compelled to include GMG in its package in spite of high payment rate( 1 subscriber-GEL 9).

It is as well stressed in the report of the Investigative Commission, that GMG Director Levan Kubaneishvili is the business partner of former GNCC Head Irakli Chikovani in Publishing House LLC, “ which we think gives answers to many questions, in terms of conflict of interests, artificially putting of one’s own partners in favorable positions, assisting the monopolization of the market and etc,”- reads the report of the Investigative Condition.

Director General of GMG doesn’t agree with the accusations of the commission, but he currently abstains from making detailed comments speaking with Media.Ge, and stressed that he’s going to meet with the members of the Investigation Commission on August 8, and that he didn’t have  such an opportunity so far.

“We have our own stance and argumentation regarding a number of issues. So we’ll try to convince the commission members of our truth. We’ll make detailed comments upon the end of the meeting,”- Levan Kubaneishvi stresses.

The position of the current membership of the Commission is that all the decisions it has made with reference to GMG were made in compliance with Georgian Legislation. Thus it doesn’t consider to have in any way facilitated the strengthening of the company, or helped monopolization of the market. As regards the opinion of Irakli Chikovani, he’s no longer a member of the Commission, and the Commission has no idea of his attitude for that matter.

The Temporary Investigative Commission, that is currently studying the activity of Georgian National Communications Commission, was established by the decree of the Parliament from May 1, 2013. The membership of the Commission includes: Tamar Kordzaia, Ani Mirotadze, Sergo Khabuliani, Erekle Tripolski, Irakli Chikovani, Paata Kiknavelidze, Levan Bezhashvili, Giorgi Karbelashvili, Paata Lezhava, Guram Misabishvili, Revaz Shavlokhashvili, Zurab Chilingarashvili, Davit Sakvarelidze. The Commission is headed by Tina Khidasheli.

The final report of the Investigation Commission will be published later. As mentioned in the interim report, a number of complains are currently studies at the moment. Apart from the episode of GMG, the issue regarding the frequencies of  the TV companies Tvali and Alania and the conflict of interest of current GNCC Head Karlo Kvitashvili.

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