Chairman of the Commission for Studying Activities of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) Tina Khidasheli said at 6 September session of Parliament that the Commission has document confirming indirect funding by the State of Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company.
According to Khidasheli, indirect funding of Rustavi 2 was done via TV-Company Sakartvelo.
“TV-Company Sakartvelo has received GEL 26 million from the State absolutely illegally. There is Georgian President’s Act by which it has been allowed to finance the television and the given Act directly speaks about sponsorship. Meanwhile Georgian Law on Broadcasting prohibits sponsorship of TV-programs by State bodies. GNCC has not shown any interest to the given case,” Khidasheli stressed.
According to her, in summer 2012 TV-Company Sakartvelo purchased from Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company 2 thousand square meter land and 4 thousand square meter building for GEL 6 million. After 2012 parliamentary elections returned the given land and buildings to Rustavi 2 for 51% of the TV-Company shares.
“In the next report we will provide you in detail the financial scheme which TV-Company Sakartvelo conducted. All their steps were motivated by indirect benefit for Rustavi 2 meaning that we see indirect funding of Rustavi 2 from the budget and not forgetting about the direct funding that Rustavi 2 received from the State,” Khidasheli said. According to her, Parliamentary Commission has not been able to receive answers to the given questions from Rustavi 2 Director Nika Gvaramia.
“Nika Gvaramia is the only person in Georgia who has refused to cooperate with us. I hope very much that when we will call him next week for interrogation he will come and verbally answer our questions. We have not received a single document Rustavi 2 and I permanently receive from him letters saying what rights the investigation commission does not have,” Khidasheli stressed at the session of Parliament.
Nika Gvaramia responded to Tina Khidasheli from Rustavi 2 newscast Courier. He stressed that there are many factual inaccuracies and problems with qualification in Khidasheli’s statement. In addition in the letters to sent to Rustavi 2 Khidasheli did not request information about owners of the TV-Company. According to Gvaramia, he would answer questions sent by Khidasheli only in case if those questions would be sent by Parliamentary Investigation Commission and not Tina Khidasheli specifically.
“Despite the fact that in the information requested by them is commercial secret; we would still answer their questions if authorized bodies like tax and investigative bodies and investigative commission of parliament would ask us. Khidasheli herself is not an investigative body. We asked Khidasheli to present a decree from the Commission according to which this information would be requested from Rustavi 2. We have not received such a document yet,” Gvaramia said.
He also stressed that one of the well-known anchors refused to cooperate with Rustavi 2 with due to consultations with Tina Khidasheli who allegedly told the journalist to refrain from working for Rustavi 2 and the given television would be closed down before the end of the year, which would be ensured by Khidesheli herself.
“I would like to tell Khidasheli that she will not be able to ensure anything in relation to Rustavi 2. She should do more interesting and important for country issues and maybe she may have more success in that. In this direction she will never be successful so she should not make fighting with Rustavi 2 the goal of her life,” Gvaramia stressed.
Tina Khidasheli also spoke about owners of Rustavi 2, Mze and Sakartvelo. She stressed that in 2005-2006 TV-Company Mze and Rustavi 2 permanently changed owners but both televisions always had same owners and the names were always connected to Bezhuashvili’s name. Later Karamanishvili brothers owned shares in TV-Companies Mze, Sakartvelo and Rustavi 2.
In confirmation of violation of the Law on Broadcasting by the TV-Company owners Khidasheli quoted Article 60, according to which it is prohibited for legal or physical person to own more than one general broadcasting license.
Commission for Studying Work of the GNCC plans to conduct interrogations on the given issues at public sessions of Parliament. Khidasheli has submitted to Parliament draft decree on continuation of work in September.