Studio equipment is badly damaged and it is unclear when Imedi TV can resume broadcasting, both the station’s management and the Public Defender said after entering the studios shortly after midnight on December 7.
“When I went inside the control room it was almost impossible to imagine that it was once a control room,” Bidzina Baratashvili, the managing director of Imedi TV, told journalists. “Monitors are destroyed; some of them are missing, including computers in the control room.”
When asked whether Imedi would be able to resume broadcasting for the presidential elections, Baratashvili replied: “Which presidential election do you mean: the January 5 one or the next one?”
“There was special equipment providing satellite connection and broadcasting, which is missing. It was just taken away,” Giorgi Targamadze, an anchor and head of Imedi TV political programs, told journalists.
Public Defender Sozar Subari accompanied Imedi management, along with insurance auditors and attorneys.
“This is barbaric,” Subari told reporters after inspecting the studios. “This is destruction of private property. Everyone, both those who ordered it and those who carried it out, should be held responsible.”
Imedi staff had been waiting outside the station well before midnight, when a court ruling on unfreezing Imedi’s assets went into force.
Journalists and TV crews from other media outlets were also at the scene, covering the event. Some of them, however, complained as they were not immediately allowed into the premises to document the situation inside.
“We still can not allow a lot of people inside, because it may hinder the work of the auditors and our experts,” Shalva Shavgulidze, a lawyer acting on behalf of Imedi, told the journalists.
TV crews from other stations were allowed in later on December 7.
Meanwhile, Imedi radio station has already resumed broadcasting. It was, along with the TV station, shut down on November 7 as a result of a police raid. Although there was never any legal obstacle preventing the radio station from broadcasting, it was unable to do so until late last night, as its studios also had been sealed off by police.
Tbilisi City Court ruled on December 6 to unfreeze Imedi’s assets – the last remaining legal obstacle for Imedi to get back on air after the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) on December 4 reversed its November 7 decision to suspend Imedi TV’s license for three months.