There is a readiness within the Georgian authorities to let Imedi TV back on air at the beginning of December, Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, said on November 23 in Tbilisi.
“I am confident, that the government of Georgia will help to restore pluralism in the broadcast scene on time, before the start of presidential electoral campaign,” he said at a news conference. “I have strong hopes that at the beginning of December the situation will be back to normal.”
He also said that the Georgian government had full understanding that the election campaign ahead of the January 5 early presidential elections “should go with full pluralism of news outlets.”
“I see readiness from the government to facilitate in letting back to air all TV stations,” he said but also added that it may take some time, because of legal procedures.
Imedi TV remains off the air since November 7 after the police raid on its premises. The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) has suspended Imedi TV’s broadcast license for three months, citing the station's violation of the law on broadcasting.
In a separate judgment, Tbilisi City Court also suspended Imedi TV’s broadcast license. In a ruling issued on November 7, it said that the station had been used by its co-owner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, as “a major tool” for organizing the demonstrations, which eventually got out of control, creating “an obvious and real threat of a forceful overthrow of the government.”
He pointed out that closure of Imedi TV was “an extraordinary” fact. “It is extraordinary not only by itself - closure of any television stations is extraordinary by standards of any country, but it is extraordinary compared to the fame of Georgia, which has been a country in the region with television pluralism – a very rare situation in the post-Soviet space,” he said.
Chief of the OSCE media watchdog office, Miklos Haraszti was visiting Tbilisi together with EU special representative for South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, specifically over Imedi TV issue.
The two officials met with President Saakashvili; Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili; Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili and an influential lawmaker from the ruling party, Giga Bokeria, during the visit. Meetings were also held with the opposition politicians, Tina Khidasheli (Republican Party); Kakha Kukava (Conservative Party) and Koba Davitashvili (Party of People), as well as with representatives from Imedi TV, Rustavi 2 TV, Kavkasia TV, Batumi-based Channel 25 (it was also shut down by the authorities in a period of state of emergency) and the daily Rezonansi.
Haraszti also pointed out that full freedom of opinion “must go together with professional responsibility.”
“Full freedom of opinion can and. Stressing democracy's shared values at all times is the job for both the politicians and the media. Here I mean all the media in Georgia and not just Imedi,” he added.