A company co-owned by wife of billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili took over management of a firm which owns cable and satellite broadcast license and plans to launch a new TV channel.
In late December Aktsept LLC in which Ivanishvili’s wife Ekaterine Khvedelidze owns 80% of shares took the management rights of Igrika, which obtained cable broadcast license from Georgian National Communications Commission in September and then satellite braodcast lisence in December. Igrika was founded by Ilia Kikabidze, who is now director of Tbilisi-based Maestro TV station.
One of Ivanishvili’s spokespersons, Nona Kandiashili, has confirmed that Aktsept LLC had a plan to launch TV channel. She said the date of launch and other details would be announced by the planned channel’s management.
“I am sure that it will be a TV channel with absolutely independent news programming. The viewers will judge it themselves,” she told Civil.ge on Seturday.
According to the agreement with Igrika, Aktsept took over the management rights till December 31, 2013 and it will receive as a fee 15% of the channel’s annual profit.
Reports about Ivanishvili planning a television channel first emerged last month when the Georgian daily, Rezonansi, reported that the billionaire’s team was already in the process of recruiting staff.
In one of his first written statement released after announcing about his political plans, Ivanishvili offered owners of TV televisions with news broadcasting license that he was ready to buy TV channel for a price three times higher than its market value and to return it back to its previous owner after two years for a symbolic price of GEL 1.
Ivanishvili has once already run TV station in Georgia; the Channel 9, which was launched in 1999, was unexpectedly closed down by Ivanishvili in April, 2004 without providing reasons.
On January 6 executives of the companies from Ivanishvili’s Cartu Group met with representatives of foreign diplomatic missions in Tbilisi and complained that shipments for their companies were subject of thorough scrutiny at customs, not seen before Ivanishvili’s decision to go into politics. They said that some of the equipment was even “deliberately damaged” and presented at the meeting results of examination of some damaged cargo, among them of eight LiveU’s portable video-over-cellular transmitters. Ivanishvili’s spokesperson, however, did not confirm that transmitters were intended for the planned TV channel.