Who wants to be a member of Public Broadcaster’s Board of Trustees? - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Who wants to be a member of Public Broadcaster’s Board of Trustees?

12 April, 2022

Eleven candidates, including two former directors, compete for three vacant seats on the Board of Trustees of Public Broadcaster.

The Parliament of Georgia announced an open competition for the selection of nominees to the Board of Trustees. Initially, twelve individuals applied for the vacancies, but then one, the former MP from the Georgian Dream, Guguli Magradze, decided to drop out of the competition.

The nine-member Board of Trustees is one of managing bodies of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) and is vested with broad functions. In particular, the Board appoints a director-general and is authorized to dismiss the director by expressing no confidence in him/her. Furthermore, the Board sets program priorities of the broadcaster and approves its budget.

Although the law clearly stipulates that the Public Broadcaster shall be independent of government and accountable to the public, the GPB fails to properly fulfill its mission. For years, criticism has been leveled at GPB directors and Board members, selected by the ruling party, for pursuing the interests and falling under the influence of the ruling party, which affect the editorial policy of the broadcaster.

Given the unfavorable media environment and polarization in the country, the independence and impartiality of Public Broadcaster acquires a profound significance. Consequently, the new electees to the Board of Trustees must be the professionals who are free from political influence, understand the importance of the GPB in consolidating democracy and at the time of serious challenges posed to the country, can make a positive contribution to the management and development of the Public Broadcaster.

Transparency International Georgia provides a brief description of academic background and professional experience of all candidates.

Vasil Maghlaperidze has close ties with the ruling party, Georgian Dream, and former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. In 2021, he briefly held a position of deputy chairman of the ruling party and member of its political council. Maghlaperidze served as Director-General of the GPB over the period between 2017 and 2020. Before joining the GPB, he worked for a TV channel GDS, owned by the family of Bidzina Ivanishvili, as a general producer of program “2030” (2014-2016), and earlier (2012), for TV9, a TV channel owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili, as the deputy director of the channel.

Civil society organizations took the appointment of Maghlaperidze to the GPB as an indication of the ruling party’s attempt to consolidate its influence on the Public Broadcaster. Under Vasil Maglapheridze’s leadership between 2017 and 2020, the GPB management took a number of decisions that attracted legitimate criticism from society: in 2018, the parliament adopted the amendments to the Law on Broadcasting, enabling the GPB to sell more airtime for commercial advertising. Questions were raised about a pro-government editorial policy as well as nepotism in staff recruitment, namely, the hiring of employees of the TV channel owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s son without undertaking a recruitment process. Current GPB employees assert that during Maglaperidze’s tenure, the management made attempts to impose censorship, blocked reports on topics that were unfavorable for government and were critical of the government, practiced so called “black lists'' of respondents, i.e. those individuals that were banned from appearing on the GPB. In 2020, shortly before the parliamentary election and earlier than the term of his service expired, Vasil Maghlaperidze resigned. An official reason cited by him was his desire to spare the broadcaster from questioning the impartiality of its coverage of the election. Soon after leaving the GPB, he became a deputy chairman of Georgian Dream and member of its political council.

“My political taste and views remain unchanged,” said Maglaperidze in 2021 when after holding a managerial position within the ruling party for less than three months he resigned, citing health concerns.

At present, Maglaperidze works in the Public Broadcaster again, as a presenter and producer of “Our Georgia” project on Teleschool.

Vasil Maglaperidze served as a governor (2005-2008) in the previous UNM government, and since 1999, was elected twice to the Parliament of Georgia.

As regards his experience in the field of journalism, Maghlaperidze was the editor-in-chief of Kalmasoba magazine in 2010-2012 and the head of the Kavkasioni newspaper in 1993-2022.

In 1980, Maghlaperidze graduated from the Faculty of Philology of Tbilisi State University; he worked as a teacher of Georgian language and literature.

Giorgi Chanturia served as the GPB director from 2009 to 2012, during the UNM rule. He was considered a favorable candidate for the government of that time. During his tenure questions were raised about the editorial independence of the broadcaster: in September 2012, the TV channel dragged its feet about airing the videos featuring mass human rights abuses in penitentiary institutions; in March of the same year, three national TV channels - Rustavi 2, Imedi and the GPB, covered the death of a citizen in the police department in an absolutely identical way, thereby raising doubts about a coordinated release of information by these news services.

Shortly after the change in power through parliamentary election in October 2012 and before the expiry of his term in office, Giorgi Chanturia resigned, citing his failure to implement promised reforms.

Giorgi Chanturia now teaches at Media and TV Art Community College of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU). In 2013, he founded Centuria Film Production. Chanturia graduated from the Faculty of Philology of the Tbilisi State University in 1993.

Since 2021, Dodo Shonava, a seasoned journalist of the Public Broadcaster, has led the School of Media Communication at the House of Justice established by Eka Beselia. For the 2020 parliamentary election, she was among top ten candidates on the proportional list of the political party For Justice founded by Eka Beselia.

Dodo Shonava has a long experience of working in the Public Broadcaster. Having started as a youth programs correspondent on a GPB radio channel in 1977, she held various managerial positions until 2019, including those of director general of Sakartvelos Radio, chief producer and then, director general of GPB’s Second Channel. In 2015-2017, she was the head of GPB’s current affairs service.

For Dodo Shonava this is not the first attempt to compete for a seat on the Board of Trustees or the position of GPB director.

Dodo Shonava graduated from the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Tbilisi State University. She has a long experience in teaching.

A singer, Zaza Khutsishvili, was a majoritarian MP from the Georgian Dream party in 2016-2020. He left the ruling party in protest at its decision to vote down the bill on the introduction of the proportional electoral system in 2019.

In 2016, Zaza Khutsishvili was a presenter of “Pikis Saati” program on the GPB’s radio channel and before that, in 2014, a presenter on Radio Vinyl. In 2011-2013, he worked for Maestro while in 2008-2010 for Radio Ucnobi as a presenter of the program “Monkavshiri.” In 1996, he set up a musical band Vakis Parki and has been its soloist since then.

Zaza Khutsishvili graduated from the Faculty of Hydraulic Engineering of Technical University of Georgia.

Journalist Lasha Tugushi is the director of Liberal Academy and the editor-in-chief of the English-language online news media, www.dfwatch.net. Since 2022, he has been a presenter of the program “Resume” on TV Palitra. Since 2019 to date, he leads the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum – Georgian National Platform.

Lasha Tugushi was the director of Georgian Press Association in 2008-2013 and the editor-in-chief of Rezonansi newspaper in 1995-2018.

Lasha Tugushi is an alumnus of 2011 Fulbright Program at School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University. Tugushi was awarded a PhD in political science from the Tbilisi Technical University. He has a long experience in pedagogic and scientific work.

Lia Shavgulidze leads the Journalistic Research and Economic Analysis Center since 2018. She served as the director of Journalistic Research and Economic Analysis Center and editor-in-chief of the webpage eugeorgia.info in 2014-2018; was a media analyst at Transparency International Georgia in 2011-2012; held the position of editor-in-chief of Akhali Versia newspaper in 2002-2003; worked as an investigative journalist for “60 minutes” program in Rustavi 2 TV company in 1999-2000; was a political commentator of Rezonansi newspaper in 1997-1999.

For years, Lia Shavgulidze has been a contributor to various media outlets. She graduated from the Faculty of Russian Language and Literature of Tbilisi State University in 1988.

Arina Tavakarashvili is now engaged in pedagogic activity. She was a researcher in Shida Kartli for the Democracy Research Institute in 2019-2020; an expert in NATO affairs at International Center for Geopolitical Studies in 2017-2020; a member of regional council of the Public Broadcaster in 2018.

For years, Arina Tavakarashvili has actively cooperated with nongovernmental organizations and she has an extensive experience in a journalistic activity. In 2017, she undertook doctoral studies at Caucasus's International University. According to her biography, she is an art critic, lawyer and a math teacher.

According to biographical data provided by Aleksi Noniadze, he is a staffer of political group Reformers at the Parliament since 2021 and also works as a training analyst at the Civil Monitoring Center.

In 2020-2021, Noniadze was the author and presenter of the program “Agro Sector” on Radio Commersant. He worked for the Ministry of Security in 2000-2003 and for the Special State Protection Service in 1997-2000.

In 2002, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in engineering economics at the Technical University while in the following years undertook master’s and doctoral programs in air transport exploitation in the same university. He has a long experience of working in the field of education and science.

Giorgi Iasashvili is a lawyer of Trade Union at the Public Broadcaster. In 2016, he founded the Civil Center for Research and Response to Anti-Corruption, Anti-Monopoly and Negative Facts, and the Independent Trade Union of Lawyers. Over the period between 1986 and 2005, he held various positions in the Public Broadcaster, namely, those of TV operator and assistant director, TV director at the Second Channel and since 2004, a TV director of Sakteleradiomautskebeli.

In 2011, Giorgi Iasashvili was awarded a master's degree in law from David Aghmashenebeli University of Georgia. In 2000, he obtained a qualification of TV director at Shota Rustaveli Theater and Film Georgia State University. In 1990, he was awarded a qualification of director of self-governing ensembles from the Technical University.

In 2019-2022, Bela Kopaliani served as the First Deputy Minister of Justice and Civic Integration in the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia in exile. In the same government she held a position of First Deputy Minister for Issues of Restoration of Trust and Reconciliation in 2014-2019, and of Deputy Minister of Education and Culture in 2014.

 In 2004-2011 she was the head of the organization Peace and Education. For years, Bela Kopaliani cooperated with international organizations and participated in various projects.

In 2016, she was awarded a doctoral degree from the Technical University. She has a long experience of working in the field of education and science.

Since 2007, Marina Giorgadze has served as a leading specialist at the Public Relations and Information Department of the Parliament and before that, in 2006-2007, as a leading specialist for the development of web portal in the same department. In 2004-2005, she worked as a producer at TBC TV while in 1985-2004 held various positions in the Public Broadcaster, including those of editor of “Moambe” and the head of information resources center. She has experience of pedagogic activity.

Marina Giorgadze graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of Tbilisi State University.