Board of trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) sacked on September 6 general director of the broadcaster, Giorgi Baratashvili, for the second time in last six months.
Baratashvili was first fired by the board in early March, just two months after the same board appointed him as head of GPB. At the time Baratashvili took his firing to the court and won his post back.
But recently the same board again pushed the issue of Baratashvili resignation, accusing him of a failure to provide the board with sufficient information related to programming and budget.
On September 6 all nine sitting members of the 15-seat board voted in favor of firing Baratashvili, who denounced his sacking by the board as “politically motivated”, alleging that the board is under UNM’s influence.
His deputy Tamaz Tkemaladze will be an acting director general of GPB before the appointment of new head.
On September 5 several civil society organizations released a joint statement calling on the public broadcaster to “overcome partisan games.”
Transparency International Georgia; Georgian Democracy Initiative; Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center; International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy and Media Development Foundation said in their joint statement that “the current confusion and disputes are negatively affecting not only the reputation of the public broadcaster but may also affect the pre-election environment in general.”
The statement also notes uncertainty surrounding anchors of two political talk shows at GPB, Eka Kvesitadze and Davit Paichadze.
“The GPB’s management has stated that Kvesitadze’s Aktsentebi [Accents] and Paichadze’s Dialogue [talk] shows may be cancelled, but that a final decision has yet to be made, and the two anchors would, in any case, remain employees of the GPB and be considered as potential hosts for an upcoming new political show. The two anchors are known for their critical views of the government, and are perceived by parts of society as biased in favour of the United National Movement. Their criticism of the current government is thus seen as a violation of the concept of political neutrality. The GPB’s management will need to provide solid and impartial argumentation to justify the closure of these programs; otherwise, questions will arise concerning political bias of the management itself,” the statement reads.