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Board Called for Transparency in Electing Public TV Head
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Aug.'09 / 17:55

A group of media activists and journalists initiated a campaign to secure, as they put it, “transparent and fair” election of public broadcaster’s new general director.

Sixteen people are competing for the public TV’s top job, which became vacant after Levan Kubaneishvili resigned on July 20 for the reasons he declined to elaborate.

Public broadcaster’s board of trustees will make a shortlist of candidates based on contenders’ professional background and brief papers on their plans and vision by August 6 and then hold interviews with shortlisted candidates before naming a winner on August 10.

Reportedly Gia Chanturia, now an acting general director, who was Kubaneishvili’s deputy, is the authorities’ favorite candidate likely to be elected by the board of trustees.

In a petition circulated through internet a group of activists, civil society representatives and journalists have called on the board of trustees to secure transparent election process by providing live televised interviews with shortlisted candidates to disavow speculation that the interviews and the entire selection procedures are mere formality; the demand has already been rejected by board chairman, Levan Gakheladze.

Gakheladze says that the law does not oblige the board to make interviews public and on the other hand, he continued, interviews might involve questions containing “information of private nature.” He also said that board members should be able to work and take decision in “calm conditions” without presence of TV cameras.

At a meeting with civil society representatives on August 4, key candidates agreed to be interviewed by board members on live air. Gia Chanturia was not present at this meeting, which was organized by Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) and Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA).

The petition, initiated by publishers of magazines Tskheli Shokoladi and Liberali, as well as by journalists Ninia Kakabadze, Nino Zuriashvili; historian and commentator Lasha Bakradze and media researcher Nino Danelia, was joined by over 70 individuals by Tuesday afternoon and it remains open for signatures till August 6.

The petition also calls on the board of trustees to provide live debates on the public TV with participation of shortlisted candidates, board members and civil society representatives. Debates between the shortlisted candidates are expected to be held on the public TV, but without presence of audience.

“In the event of non-fulfillment of our demands, we express distrust towards the decision of the board of trustees and reserve the right to demand postponement of election of Public Broadcaster’s General Director unless new board of trustees is elected,” the petition reads.

Currently there are eight members in the board of trustees (three of them are newly elected); one seat remains vacant. The ruling party initiated last week proposal to increase number of seats in the board from nine to fifteen. The proposal was endorsed by the Parliament with its first reading last week.

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