Bidzina Baratashvili, the executive director of Imedi TV, said on March 26 he expected the television station to resume partial broadcasts in early April.
“We have many problems, including financial, technical and staff ones. It will take some time to resolve these problems,” Baratashvili told reporters. “I presume we will be able to resume test broadcasts on April 1 and I think an additional week will be needed for the resumption of full-scale broadcasts – I mean selecting new anchors for primetime news programs, as well as new anchors for political talk-shows and their formats – so I think all this will happen no later than April 10.”
Baratashvili was speaking with journalists after meeting with Joseph Kay, a step cousin of late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, who claims to be the new owner of Imedi TV and radio stations. His claims, however, are disputed by Patarkatsishvili’s widow, Inna Gudavadze, who claims that Kay, alias Kakalashvili, is just a frontman for the authorities, who are using him to gain control of the station.
Joseph Kay told journalists after the meeting: “This television station will be neither pro-opposition nor pro-government; this is a television station that should broadcast in line with the principle of freedom of speech.”
He also added that he was “not the kind of businessman who interferes” in editorial or staff policy.
He also confirmed that he had canceled an agreement under which Patarkatsishvili had handed over management rights of Imedi media holding to Rupert Murdoch’s media giant News Corporation for one year last October. “For me News Corp. is Boris Berezovsky; there is no place for Berezovsky here,” he said. He did not, however, elaborate in what way Berezovsky was linked to News Corp’s management rights of Imedi.
Meanwhile, the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) said on March 26 it would not suspend Imedi TV’s broadcast license. GNCC is in fact mandated to consider suspending Imedi’s license as March 26 marks three months since it stopped broadcasting.