After certain hesitation, chairman of the board of trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB), Irakli Tripolski, announced his final decision to resign on May 30.
Tripolski mainly blamed limited powers of the board to influence decision-making process. He said that in the capacity of the board chairman he had no powers to change anything in the way how the public TV covered ongoing political developments.
“Existing provisions [of the law on public broadcaster] give power to the public TV general director to take unilateral decisions,” Tripolski said in a written statement read out by him in presence of other members of the board and journalists.
“In practice the powers of the board are not enough to provide system of checks and balances between the general director and the board to manage the television station.”
He also criticized the general director of the public TV, Levan Kubaneishvili, of a failure to provide “comprehensive and adequate” coverage by the television station of ongoing developments in the country.
“Providing comprehensive information about developments in the country – especially today - should be the goal of this television, but unfortunately the general direct either can not or is not securing this,” Tripolski said.
He also said that his move was not an attempt “to shun away from responsibility.” “It is just impossible based on these circumstances to follow commitments undertaken by my [on this position],” he added.
Tripolski first announced he planned to resign on May 27, citing, what he called, the public TV’s “biased coverage” and in particular of the May 26 protest rally of the opposition.
“Law on public broadcasting says that the public TV should be objective and cover all the developments taking place in the country appropriately, but that is not happening,” Tripolski told Civil.Ge on May 27. “I do not see that the public TV is objective and I have no power to change anything so I decided to resign.
Later on the same day Tripolski, however, came under criticism from some opposition parties, as well as from some non-governmental groups affiliated with the opposition, for this move. They have claimed that Tripolski’s decision could have further increased the state grip on the public TV and suggested that it would be more effective to resist any pressure from within the television rather than by quitting the position. As a result, on May 28 he said that he would remain on the post only if other members of the board accepted his proposals aimed at strengthening the board’s role.
Tripolski became chairman of the new board of public TV in late February, after it was agreed between the opposition and the authorities to reshuffle the previous board. Five members out of nine-member board were nominated by the authorities and remaining four by the opposition, including Tripolski. The new board appointed Levan Kubaneishvili on the post of the general director of the public TV with five votes to four, replacing Tamar Kintsurashvili.
Tripolski said on May 30 that since his appointment he was fulfilling his duties based on the public TV’s interests and not on those of interests of the political parties. He also said that other members of the board would also “stand above [their] political opinions.”