Public TV board members: (from left to right) Levan Gakheladze; Mamuka Pachuashvili; Irma Sokhadze; Marina Vekua. Photo: InterPressNews
Members of the Board of Trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) have denied allegations that the authorities were exerting pressure on the television station to influence its editorial policy.
“There was no pressure on the station, at least within the past two months, since our appointments [as board members],” Levan Gakheladze, the acting chairman of the public TV’s board, said at a meeting on June 12.
Gakheladze became the acting chairman on May 30 after Irakli Tripolski, the former chairman of the board of trustees, resigned, citing the “biased reporting” of the public TV. Tripolski said that he took the decision after the public TV’s “biased” and “inappropriate” coverage of the May 26 opposition protest rally.
There are now eight board members.
Although Marina Vekua, a member of the board, acknowledged that recent events, including the May 26 protest rally, were not “covered appropriately” by the public TV, she said it had nothing to do with the alleged pressure, but instead cited, what she called, “a lack of professional staff in the television station.”
Irma Sokhadze, a member of the board, also denied any pressure by the authorities. “We have not felt any pressure, really,” she said. “I want to believe that the authorities understand that it would be unfavorable for them if this station were biased or a ‘pocket television’ - as we [the public TV] are unfortunately frequently referred to as.”
Levan Gakheladze also said that the board was willing to increase its currently limited powers. Amendments to the law on public broadcaster will be necessary for this.
The public TV board members were speaking at a round table discussion held in news agency RIA Novosti’s international press center in Tbilisi.