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Girchi TV starts broadcasting, representatives say they won’t pay taxes until debt is at GEL 24 984 000

By Nika Gamtsemlidze
Tuesday, August 27
The new channel of political party Girchi started broadcasting. The channel called Girchi TV aired on Magti cable, at the Channel 61, on August 21. According to the representatives of the party, negotiations are underway and they hope that soon Silk TV users will also be able to watch the channel.

Zurab Japaridze, the leader of the party, explained that they want to reach a segment of the Georgian population that still receives political information from television and not from the Internet.

According to Section 37 (2) of the Broadcasting Law, an authorized person in the field of broadcasting may not be a political party or an official representative of a political party. When asked why the authorization was granted to Girchi TV, the Commission explained that it authorizes anyone who claims to be in full compliance with the information required by Georgian legislation on broadcasting.

The decision to grant authorization reads that Tsotne Koberidze is the Director and 100% shareholder of Girchi TV. It also states that Koberidze is not a party official. Some people still say that the channel should not have been granted authorization because Koberidze openly supports the political party, but as he said, it is not right to limit political parties from owning broadcasting companies. According to him, Girchi TV was granted the right to broadcast by a “silly law.”

“We want the Girchi TV to be interesting and informative space, with a specific ideology. In this regard, our platform is open and we want to establish new programs. Everyone who has the same ideology as we, will be granted a chance to spread their views,” noted Koberidze.

According to the representatives of the party, their new channel won’t pay taxes until their debt reaches GEL 24 984 000.

As they said, to not pay taxes, Georgian broadcasters use two different methods: In one case, they are working for the Government, so they are forgiven their debts. And, in the second case, they are doing their job according to the wishes of the opposition, so when the government is trying to force them to pay money, the society thinks that it is a fight against free speech.”

As the party representatives believe, broadcasters who refuse to perform one of these functions are oppressed. Although the party views any tax as “robbery,” they assess the reality of the media market as “incredibly injustice.”

According to the Ministry of Finance, the three TV companies have government debt. Specifically, Rustavi 2 owes the government 28 million, Imedi's debt is about 19 million and Maestro has 8 million debt. According to Ivane Machavariani, Minister of Finance, the ministry is ready to negotiate with the companies and try to understand their situation. As he noted, the subject of negotiations will also be to write off part of the debts.

New Political Center — Girchi was founded in November of 2015, by former members of United Nation Movement, Zurab Japaridze, Pavle Kublashvili, Giorgi Khachidze, and Giorgi Meladze.