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TV Channel PIK’s employees protest actions

By Keti Arjevanidze
Friday, October 26
Employees of Russian language TV channel PIK (First Caucasian) protested outside Georgia's Parliament building in Kutaisi and staged a similar rally in front of the Georgian Public Broadcaster in Tbilisi in response to the removal of the TV channel from Georgian airwaves.

The disgruntled workers demand detailed information as to why the TV channel stopped broadcasting and they want to know where finances that were intended for the channel disappeared.

Eka Kotrikadze, Head of the Georgian Public Broadcaster's Informational Service explained that as the sole funder of TV PIK, GPB was responsible for discontinuing the channel, citing a lack of funds as the reason. She stated that the TV PIK is still presenting old material but all informational programmes were cancelled along with the contracts of its 400 employees.

On October 20, GPB's General Director Gia Chanturia announced that TV PIK had been taken off the air, stating that the company had violated an agreement with GPB. Chanturia expressed his readiness to engage in negotiations with the Company, but added that Eka Kotrikadze and other representatives of TV PIK failed to attend a meeting on October 25 intended to resolve the dispute.

The meeting, which along with Chanturia was attended by GPB’s 11-member tutorial council, Tamar Kordzaia of the Coalition Media for Advocacy and a journalist of the Georgian magazine Liberali, ended inconclusively.

Giuli Chachanashvili, General Producer of TV PIK told journalists after the meeting that Chanturia is waiting for political willingness from the new government.

Kordzaia mentioned that “the Broadcaster could not guarantee its obligation towards society. Commercial influence is not only when someone runs an advertisement. Someone consciously may harm the broadcaster and its content.” He added that issues that were brought up during the meeting need to be more deeply discussed.

According to GYLA, recently published documents raise among society towards GPB and TV PIK.

GYLA stated that according to the January 13, 2012 agreement between GPB and TV PIK, GPB is obliged to provide Russian language TV content. The watchdog group recommends that the State Audit Service investigate the standoff between the two sides.