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Media Advocacy Group Steps in to End Maestro TV Row
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 1 Dec.'11 / 16:41

Representatives from a media advocacy group are trying to break a deadlock, which is hindering the Tbilisi-based Maestro TV to resume its regular programming for a second day because of a row between owners and the television station’s managing firm.

Representatives from the Coalition of Media Advocacy are inside the television station’s premises trying to convince both sides – one of the co-owners Mamuka Glonti, who has locked himself together with some staff members inside the control room, and Erosi Kitsmarishvili of the managing firm, who along with his security guard controls the rest of the TV station’s premises – to launch negotiations and to allow journalists to resume their work in a normal mode.

Representatives from the media advocacy group stepped in after both Kitsmarishvili and one of the co-owners of Maestro TV, Levan Chikvaidze, indicated after a meeting earlier on Thursday that they were ready to resolve the dispute through talks. Chikvaidze suggested that mediators might be needed, possibly from the civil society representatives. He also said that negotiations should be held outside the Maestro TV premises to restore normal working conditions in the station. Kitsmarishvili said that he felt all the sides were disposed towards resolving the dispute through talks, but he also indicated that he would have to force Glonti out of the control room if the talks fail.

A group of Maestro TV’s journalists made a joint statement calling on owners and the managing firm to resolve the dispute through talks, but also added that in order to resume normal working condition it was required for Kitsmarishvili and his security guard to leave the building of the TV station.

Founder of the Maestro TV’s managing firm, Erosi Kitsmarishvili, wants to change the station’s top management and announced about sacking of the TV station’s director Bacho Kikabidze; the latter and co-owners of the station, however, say Kitsmarishvili has no right to unilaterally change the management.

According to the three-year contract on handing over management rights signed between the Maestro TV and Kitsmarishvili’s Rustavi Media Management Company on November 30, 2009, the managing firm can not take decisions on staffing policy, including its top management without prior agreement with the television station’s owners.

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