Georgia’s one of the largest nationwide broadcaster, Imedi TV, has been “transferred” to the family of late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, the television station reported on Tuesday evening without providing details.
Imedi TV opened its main news bulletin at 8pm by reading out a statement of the Patarkatsishvili family: “The family of Badri Patarkatsishvili is glad that it has reached an agreement with current owners of Imedi TV to transfer the TV company to the [Patarkatsishvili] family. The process of handover started today and we will spare no effort for Imedi TV to be highly professional and unbiased TV company.”
Imedi TV, which in recent years has been run by President Saakashvili’s long-time ally and former government member Giorgi Arveladze, was launched in 2003 by Badri Patarkatsishvili, who was funding the broadcaster up until his death in February, 2008.
In November, 2007, when the riot police broke up anti-government demonstrations, supported by Patarkatsishvili, Imedi TV was raided by the police, taking it off the air.
After Patarkatsishvili’s death, ownership of the television station was taken over by the tycoon’s distant relative Joseph Kay in controversial circumstances, triggering a three-year long dispute about the broadcaster’s ownership. The dispute also involved ownership of some other assets as well.
The dispute was settled, or at least that’s how it was reported by the Patarkatsishvili family itself, in July 2011, when the family and the Georgian government signed a deal.
“The family has agreed to withdraw all of its complaints filed [in the international arbitration] against the Georgian government and third parties regarding broadcasting company Imedi,” read the statement released by the Patarkatsishvili family after the deal was signed. It also said that the family reserved the right to continue challenging claims by Joseph Kay over ownership of other disputed assets outside Georgia.
No details of that deal were reported either by the Georgian government or the Patarkatsishvili family.
Details of the recent deal, based on which the Imedi TV will be “transferred” to the Patarkatsishvili family, are not yet known either.
Currently Imedi, which also includes a radio station, is owned by Georgian Media Production Group, a company in which 45% of shares are owned by Giorgi Arveladze, ex-minister of economy and former chief of the President’s administration. 10% of its shares are owned by Joseph Kay; the rest is owned by two businessmen Giorgi Korakhashvili (30%) and Giorgi Mikeladze (15%); the latter contributed GEL 35,000 to President Saakashvili’s UNM party during the recent electoral campaign.