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First Sign of Imedi Reopening
/ 7 Dec.'07 / 16:47
Civil Georgia

The first tentative sign that Imedi TV is about to resume broadcasting was seen on December 7 with the station's logo appearing on TV screens.

Imedi management said studio equipment was badly damaged and it was unclear when exactly the station would resume broadcasting. They indicated, however, that it would happen sometime before the January 5 presidential election.

Satellite connection equipment is apparently missing. “Even if we start broadcasting in a few days, it will be on a limited scale,” Bidzina Baratashvili, the station's managing director, said.

It is expected that the station's coverage area will be initially limited to Tbilisi.

Imedi management, along with insurance auditors, attorneys and Public Defender Sozar Subari, entered the studios shortly after midnight on December 7 when a court ruling on unfreezing Imedi’s assets went into force. The television station was shut down by the authorities on November 7 after a police raid.

Today's relative optimism regarding the possibility of resuming broadcasts is in marked contrast to management's initial reaction upon entering the studios last night. 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?”

“When I went inside the control room it was almost impossible to imagine that it was once a control room,” Baratashvili told journalists. “Monitors are destroyed; some of them are missing, including computers in the control room.”
 
Later on December 7 TV crews from other stations were also allowed inside to document damage in the control room.

“This is barbaric,” Public Defender Sozar 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.”
 
Meanwhile, Imedi radio station has already resumed broadcasting. It was, along with the TV station, shut down on November 7 as a result of the 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.

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