Management right of a state-owned firm, Alfa-Com, in charge of TV tower has been obtained by a firm, which was registered only a week before the auction.
Golden Com, which was the only participant of the online auction launched by the Economy Ministry on July 18, obtained for GEL 110,000 management right of Afla-Com, formerly the Georgian TeleRadioCenter - the state-owned company, which manages 274-meter high TV tower in Tbilisi and 35 other smaller towers throughout the country, serving more than 30 radio and 16 TV stations.
Golden Com, according to entrepreneurship registry, was founded on July 11 and is wholly owned by Vasii Bolashvili, who was registered as "an individual entrepreneur." Bolashvili, who runs a hotel business, donated GEL 2,000 (about USD 1,200) to the ruling National Movement party in 2010.
“Technical re-equipment of the [TV] tower will take place; new types of telecommunication services will be introduced and existing ones will be improved,” the Economic Ministry said in a statement issued on August 1.
A group of media activists and journalists have been expressing protest over, what they called, non-transparent process of selling management rights of Alfa-Com, suggesting that the move would lead to price hikes for the services providing by the firm, which would result into a serious financial burden for small TV channels.
Nino Jangirashvili, owner and director of Tbilisi-based Kavkasia TV, was spearheading the campaign against the auction. She claimed that the auction was a mere formality and the authorities wanted to hand the management to someone with close links to them.