Public Broadcaster in anticipation of a new director - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Public Broadcaster in anticipation of a new director

25 September, 2020


A new Director-General of the Public Broadcaster (GPB) should be selected in the coming days, for which 4 contestants - Tinatin Berdzenishvili, Irma Sokhadze, Khatuna Lagazidze, and Alexander Vakhtangov, are competing at the final stage.

After Vasil Maglaperidze resigned, eight candidates initially expressed their desire to become the director of the broadcaster in the competition announced on August 19. Only four candidates moved to the second stage. The Director-General is selected by the Board of Trustees through an open competition for a term of six years.

According to the legislation, a candidate for the position of the Director-General must be a citizen of Georgia, a person of public recognition and trust; he/she must have a master's degree or an equivalent academic degree; at least 10 years of work experience, including 3 years in a managerial position and also at least 5 years of work experience in the field of journalism, human rights and/or academia -pedagogy.

The final list of candidates for the position of the GPB’s Director-General is as follows:

Tinatin Berdzenishvili - has been working in various leading positions at the GPB since 2011. Since 2018, she has been the first deputy of Vasil Maglaperidze and after Maglaperidze’s resignation she became the acting director.

Even after the resignation of the former director, Giorgi Baratashvili, in 2016, Berdzenishvili was an acting director. Then she participated in the announced competition and moved to the second round, however, in the end, the Board of Trustees chose Vasil Maglaperidze. Tinatin Berdzenishvili became a member of Maglaperidze's team and actively defended the controversial reforms and initiatives of the director.

Berdzenishvili also states in her cover letter that if elected, she will successfully continue the work started by Vasil Maglaperidze. Berdzenishvili was a member of the self-regulatory council of the first instance of the broadcaster. This institution did not find any violation of ethical norms from the side of the GPB when it disseminated the disputed record of the Ministry of Internal Affairs about Zviad Ratiani’s detention. However, the council instructed the GPB to delete this video from all platforms and not to use it in future. Berdzenishvili signed this conclusion of the council, based on which Mr Maglaperidze ruled that there was no violation of the ethical norms, while in the same case, the Council of the Charter of Journalistic Ethics of Georgia found a violation of the principles of the Charter due to the publication of this contested video.

Tinatin Berdzenishvili is the head of the Gender Equality Group of the European Broadcasting Union, as well as a member of this Union’s Media Committee and the Central European Committee.

Alexander Vakhtangov is the director of television films and programs and has worked in various positions at the GPB over the years, including being a member of the GPB’s Board of Trustees in 2014-2016 under the Georgian Dream quota. His selection to the Board of Trustees was disputed, as Vakhtangov did not take part in the televised debates between the candidates, although he was still selected by the Georgian Dream.

Khatuna Lagazidze is a political expert who reviews current issues in the country. Over the years, she has worked as a political commentator for various media outlets, including Kviris Palitra. She was also a host of Resume, a program at Radio Palitra. Since 2015, she has been actively involved in political activities with Paata Burchuladze, and before the 2016 parliamentary elections, she left Burchuladze's party. According to Khatuna Lagazidze's resume, she has worked as an analyst at the press service of the Head of State from 1994 to 1995, and has been a leading state adviser to the President of Georgia from 1996 to 2001. Khatuna Lagazidze is also engaged in business activities together with her family.

Irma Sokhadze is a pop singer who has worked in various positions at the GPB, Mze and Imedi TV for years. The Parliament selected her as a member of the GPB's Board of Trustees in 2008. About a year later, in April 2009, she left the post in protest, along with three colleagues, for inappropriate coverage of opposition rallies.

The position of the GPB’s Director General became vacant after the former director, Vasil Maglaperidze, resigned before the end of his term, on August 18, 2020. The official reason for the leave was to avoid possible doubts and questions about the impartiality of the GPB for the upcoming elections. These questions have been present since his appointment to this position, because Maglaperidze is considered to be close to Bidzina Ivanishvili. He was the Deputy Director of the Ninth Channel, a television station owned by the Ivanishvili family, and later he became the General Producer of the program "2030" at GDS, another channel owned by the Ivanishvili family.

It should be noted that since 2005 - the day of the establishment of the GPB - none of the directors of this broadcaster has completed the term provided by law. The reasons for the resignation of each director were not convincing to the public, which exacerbated the legitimate questions about the government's influence over the broadcaster.