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Georgian TV stations report their revenue-some questions remain

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, August 23
Transparency International (TI) Georgia has published the latest data on the revenues of private Georgian TV channels. According to their data, broadcaster revenues declined in the first half of 2013.

TV channels Rustavi 2 and Imedi remain the largest broadcasters and reported the biggest income during the first half of the year. From January to May 2013, the channels reported revenues of 12.3 million and 6.2 million GEL, respectively. TV channel Maestro came third on the list. It managed to generate 1.3 million GEL in revenue. Maestro now operates two separate channels and its revenue has increased by 300 percent compared to last year.

"Some TV stations significantly under-report their revenues and do not include funds they receive from their owners in their declarations. TV stations report their revenues with varying levels of detail and inconsistency. Some TV stations present figures for different categories such as advertising, sponsorship, product placement and donations while others only report ‘total income’ and some seem to shift their revenues from one category to another." TI Georgia's website states.

TV9, a broadcaster owned by the family of the Georgina Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, has not been able to attract advertising revenues like Rustavi 2 and Imedi and the channel mostly operates from subsidies from its owners. The channel reported 312,827 GEL in income from advertising, but information on the financial support the company receives has been undisclosed so far.

Prime Minister Ivanishvili recently announced that he has been trying to sell the channel for the last ten months, but regrettably no investor has been found and the TV channel had to be shut down.

Trialeti TV, which is a channel based in Gori and is co-owned by TV9, reported 80,064 GEL revenue in the first half of 2013. Channel 25, a regional TV station based in Batumi, declared 271,105 GEL in total revenue, 185,000 of which came from advertising.

TI Georgia believes that the reported decline in TV channel revenues might be due to "perceived political instability in the months after the change of power, which led to a decrease in private sector spending, and of an overall slowdown of the economy. Also several channels have changed management, which forced some major advertisers to delay the launch of advertising campaigns in the beginning of the year." TI Georgia's website reads.