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Imedi's New Owner Delays Reopening – Source
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Mar.'08 / 22:01

Imedi TV will not resume broadcasts on March 26, the person claiming to be the owner of the station told staff at a meeting, Civil.Ge has learnt from two separate sources close to Imedi.

It had emerged earlier on March 25 that Imedi TV was planning to resume broadcasts at 6pm local time on Wednesday. The speculation was further fuelled by the appearance of Imedi TV crews outside Parliament reporting on the protest rally. Later on the same day, however, the crews unexpectedly packed up their equipment and left.

Joseph Kay, alias Joseph Kakalashvili, who claims to be the new owner of Imedi TV and radio stations, met with station staff later on March 25 and told them that the station would not resume broadcasts on Wednesday.

The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) is mandated to consider suspending Imedi TV’s broadcast license if the station fails to reopen by March 26, as it would be exactly three months since it stopped broadcasting. Joseph Kay, however, told staff, according to the sources, that such legal considerations “are not a problem.”

It also emerged on March 25 that Kay, who is late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili’s step cousin, had suspended an agreement under which Patarkatsishvili had handed over management rights of his shares in Imedi media holding to Rupert Murdoch’s media giant News Corporation for one year last October.

Patarkatsishvili’s family has described Kay as “an imposter” and accused him of seizing Imedi through “falsification of documents.” They have vowed to challenge him in the courts.

The opposition, meanwhile, alleges that Kay is just a frontman for the the authorities, who are using him to gain control of the station. Kay, however, denies the allegation.

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