The publicly-funded Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) will suspend all TV and radio programming, except its news program, beginning from July 17, 2017.
The board of trustees and the GPB management struck a deal on March 7 following a month-long debate on the reform proposals of the newly-elected Director-General Vasil Maglaperidze.
GPB, which runs two television channels and two radio stations, will shut 100 programs out of the total of 101, retaining only the news program.
According to the broadcaster’s new action plan, the broadcaster will resume its programming from September with fewer programs, citing financial and technical constraints.
“Optimal amount of programs will, in the long-run, enable us to save the financial resources and to concentrate the human, technical and financial resources,” the action plan stated.
The public broadcaster will announce a call for applications for new programs on March 31 and conclude the selection process on July 17.
“GPB’s work will be guided by the principle of competition and it will aspire towards leadership in terms of quality and professional standards; it should become a leading platform, where the public discusses its problems and receives necessary information,” the action plan also said.
Maglaperidze’s initial action plan for 2017-2019, unveiled at his press briefing on February 6, entailed four core activities: immediate shutdown of all TV and radio programming except news programs until 2018; staff reduction; updating equipment and infrastructure; introducing the principle of competition in all GPB segments.
Vasil Maglaperidze’s plan was heavily criticized by opposition political parties, civil society organizations, as well as the board of trustees.
Maglaperidze’s second proposal presented on February 17, which ranked the programs into three categories, caused criticism as well. According to the proposal, programs falling into the “high” and the “medium” categories would remain in the air, while programs clustered in the “red list” would shut down.
The board of trustees elected Vasil Maglaperidze, former lawmaker and governor of Mtskheta-Mtianeti region in 2005-2008, who most recently worked for GDS TV, owned by former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s family, as GPB’s new director general on January 6.