A decision by the Tbilisi-based Mze (the Sun) television station to halt its daily political talk-show Archevanis Zgvarze (On the Verge of Choice) sparked debates regarding the authorities’ pressure on media sources’ editorial policy.
This decision by Mze television follows a statement by influential parliamentarian from the ruling National Movement party Giga Bokeria, who criticized the way Mze TV covered June 30-July 1 unrests on Tbilisi’s central Rustaveli Avenue. These developments with the Mze TV prompted opposition parliamentarians from the Republican and Conservative parties on July 6 to accuse the authorities of mounting pressure on the television station. But MP Giga Bokeria and other parliamentarians from the ruling party strongly denied these accusations.
Reportedly 50% of shares in Mze television are currently owned by Davit Bezhuashvili, a businessman and parliamentarian. He is the brother of Secretary of the Georgian National Security Council Gela Bezhuashvili. The other 50% is owned by another parliamentarian, Vano Chkhartishvili.
Irakli Imnaishvili, an anchor for the political talk-show aired on Mze television, announced in his program on July 6 that the show will be broadcasted for the last time on July 8. Representatives of the Mze TV explained this decision by citing planned changes in the format of the television’s broadcasting.
This is the second time that Mze TV’s political talk-show has been the focus of debates over the government’s pressure on various media sources. The talk-show was temporarily halted in February after the program started inviting experts who were casting doubts over the official version of the late Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania’s death.