Georgia14 December 2007
Opposition TV station back on the air after 34 days of silence
Imedi TV, Georgia’s leading pro-opposition television station, resumed broadcasting at 8 p.m. on 12 December after being off the air for 34 days. Forcibly closed when a state of emergency was declared on 7 November and then formally banned, the station was given the go-ahead to resume operating a week ago.
6 December 2007Court lifts ban on opposition TV station
A court in Tbilisi today authorised the release of opposition television station Imedi TV’s assets in response to a request filed by the state prosecutor’s office two days ago, while the National Broadcasting Commission rescinded an order suspending its licence for three months.
These moves lifted the legal barriers to a resumption of broadcasting by the station and meant technicians could examine the state of its studios and equipment, which sustained considerable damage when special forces raided the station after President Mikhail Saakashvili’s proclamation of a state of emergency on 7 November.
“We hail this decision by the judicial authorities, which is in line with the recommendations made by Adam Michnik, the European Union’s mediator for press freedom in Georgia,” Reporters Without Borders said. Michnik said on 1 December he expected Imedi TV would resume broadcasting within a week.
Acting president says banned TV station can resume broadcasting
Reporters Without Borders hails yesterday’s statement by acting president Nino Burjanadze that she plans to ask the judicial authorities to lift a month-old broadcast ban on the independent television channel Imedi TV. “The danger that was the cause of Imedi TV’s closure no longer exists,” she said.
“We welcome the imminent resumption of broadcasting by Imedi TV and we call on the government to do the utmost to ensure that its journalists are able to work freely as soon as possible,” the press freedom organisation said.
Polish journalist Adam Michnik, who is acting as the European Union’s mediator on press freedom issues in Georgia, said on 1 December that he expected Imedi TV to reopen “within a week.” But as part of its editing and broadcast equipment was destroyed when the authorities closed it down on 7 November, it is hard to know when it will be able to resume operating.
The former Soviet republic’s western allies have insisted that the station must resume broadcasting before the presidential election scheduled for 5 January. Imedi TV said at one point that it did not think it would be able to reopen until the day of the election. Its licence was suspended by court order after the state of emergency was lifted on 16 November.
The Georgian government asked Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, a co-owner of Imedi TV, to take full control of the station on 28 November because it accuses the station’s other owner, Georgian businessman and presidential hopeful Badri Patartkatsishvili, of plotting to stage a coup in Georgia.