Dispute over Maestro TV Compared to Rustavi 2 Case

Early February, Maestro TV shareholder Gia Gache­chi­ladze (55%) named his brother Levan Gachechiladze as the TV Company Director, replacing the acting head of company, Baia Gadabadze.

Gachechiladze declared that Maestro’s rating has plummeted and a new management is needed to improve the situation. He stated his goal is aimed at preventing the TV Company’s bankruptcy.

On the opposite side, Gadabadze claimed that Gachechiladze is supported by other forces who want the TV company to be utilized for the purposes of the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The situation escalated when Gache­chiladze was reported to have met with PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili concerning the issue. The PM was accused of interfering in media issues, and was urged to distance himself from the process. PM Kvirikashvili, however, said it was just an informal meeting between the two, who are close friends.

The Prime Minister’s press-service later released a statement saying that developments around the TV Company only represent a controversy between its owners. “It is categorically unacceptable for the government or any political forces to interfere in the process,” it said.

The TV company employees said all projects remain on-going at Maestro TV and all staff is continuing to work at the channel which is now a subject of judicial dispute.

Maestro’s co-owner, Maka Asatiani, told reporters that she wants to believe that Levan and Gia Gachechiladze are victims in the situation. Asatiani said [their] main task is finding financing to help Gachechiladze purchase a control package of the company shares.

Some media experts and civil society institutions assessed the situation as critical and a continuation of the battle launched against Rustavi 2, the country’s leading TV station, which shook the entire political landscape of Georgia during the last quarter of 2015. The government was also accused in that case of attempting to utilize the media for election purposes.

On Wednesday, the National Agency of Public Registry suspended the process of registering Levan Gachechiladze as the Maestro TV Director. The Agency said the discussion was suspended on the basis of Baia Gadabadze’s complaint and request that the Agency not implement any changes connected to the Maestro Director.

On the same day, Maka Asatiani told reporters that the Public Registry is fair and belongs to the entire Maestro team. “We must aim to continue our work peacefully and let the processes develop in legal frames,” Asatiani stated.

The decision on suspension will last 30 days, after which the Public Registry should be provided with the court’s final decision on satisfying the complaint and only after that will a decision over the ban of registration requested by Gadabadze be possible.

Zviad Adzinbaia

11 February 2016 19:24