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Ban on Maestro satellite antennas lifted?

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, September 11
Maestro TV will be able to distribute its satellite antennas which had previously been seized by the current government's state bodies. Based on the decision of Georgia’s Interagency Task Force created under the auspices of the National Security Council, the TV channel will be able to distribute its satellite antennas if it fulfils various preconditions.

The meeting which was held between Maestro leadership, media representatives and the Secretary of the Security Council, Giga Bokeria, has ended with a solid outcome.

According to the General Director of Maestro TV, Ilia Kikabidze, through a decision made by Georgia’s Interagency Task Force, the antennas should be distributed via the Georgian Post to families who face economic hardships.

“The fact that the antennas must be distributed by the Georgian Post needs to be agreed upon by our foreign partners. We have to meet with them and discuss the issue, as distribution is not the main job, there are other activities that need to be addressed as well,” Kikabidze said.

Based on Rezonansi newspaper's editor-in-chief, Lasha Tughushi, who also participated in the meeting, the agreement might be achieved. “Bokeria made a step to us and the scheme which he suggested is worth discussing,” Tughushi said.

While both Kikabizde and Tughushi believe that an agreement might be achieved, they do not know when the decision of Georgia’s Interagency Task Force will come into force.

Maestro leadership connects this decision to the pressure of the International community and civil society on the Georgian Government.

Just before the fact, the It Affects You public movement made a special demand to the Georgian Government. One of the demands referred to the satellite antennas.

They demanded that the government discontinue its seizure of satellite antennas owned by various TV channels, as well as use monitoring methods as opposed to the seizure approach.

The Chief Prosecutor’s office said in a statement on July 11, 2012 that “under instructions” from the Ivanishvili-affiliated firm Elita Burji, Maestro TV imported “thousands of satellite antennas.” In a statement released on July 12, the General Prosecutor’s Office claimed that by distributing the satellite antennas, Maestro aimed at bribing voters on behalf of the Georgian Dream. That was the reason behind the seizure of the Maestro satellite antennas.