Georgia’s Public Broadcaster considering suspension of TV programs

6 Feb 2017 - 16:32

  • GPB Director General Vasil Maglaperidze. Screenshot from GPB's video material of today's presentation., 6 Feb 2017 - 16:32, Tbilisi,Georgia

The new Director General of Georgia’s Public Broadcaster (GPB) – the country’s state-funded television network – has proposed to suspend the broadcast of all GPB TV programs with the exception of news for one year as part of wide-reaching reforms within the organisation.

Vasil Maglaperidze, who was elected as the new Director General on January 6, presented today his three-year reform plan aimed at developing the GPB and "move out it of crisis”.

Maglaperidze suggested the following measures be taken:

  • Suspending all programs on all GPB platforms, excluding news programs, until 2018;
  • Reducing GPB staff;
  • Using the saved finances to upgrade the technical base of the GPB;
  • Introducing the principle of competition in all GPB segments.
"We need finances to upgrade the out-of-dated technical and material base of the GPB. For this, we need to stop all TV programs until 2018 to prepare the platform”, Maglaperidze said.

He added that this was not a closure of TV programs, but rather a temporary suspension.

Maglaperidze believes that following these efforts, the GPB will be able to save 15 million GEL a year, which is 45 million by 2019.

He says this extra money will later be spent on:

  • Renovating the GPB building and creating a staff-friendly work environment;
  • Establishing nine regional offices across Georgia;
  • Launching a multi-media news service;
  • Full technical upgrade, including the digitalisation of the GPB archive.
"From 2006-2016, 410 million GEL was spent by the GPB and of this, only five percent was spent on equipment”, Maglaperidze said, adding that the GPB TV building was on the edge of collapse, its archive was dilapidating and that the GPB is losing viewers every year.

What is GPB’s budget?

The GPB is allotted about 40 million GEL annually from Georgia’s state budget. Additionally, its alternative source of income is advertisements. For example, in 2015, the GPB was allotted almost 41 million GEL from the state budget and it received an additional 123 million GEL from advertisements and product placement.

What will come next?

The final decision on whether or not to approve of Maglaperidze’s suggestion and suspend all GPB programs for a year is up to the eight-member Board of Governors. The Board needs now to discuss the suggestion and announce its decision.

"This decision can’t be made in a day or two. Today the Board will announce that it has opened a discussion on this issue and will listen to opinions from all interested parties”, said a member of the GPB’s Board of Governors, Sulkhan Saladze.

A group of people gathered in front of the GPB building as Maglaperidze was presenting his three-year reform agenda earlier today. They protested against the possible suspension of GPB programs.

Established under the Georgian Law on Public Broadcasting, the GPB's purpose is "to provide accurate and up-to-date information that is free from political and commercial bias and is shared without any hidden agendas. The programming seeks to address the needs and interests of the larger Georgian society through a diversity of programs and viewpoints”.