December 26, Tbilisi, Imedi TV studio
Good evening. The audience will be surprised to see us in such an environment, together with our staff [Targamadze was sitting in a studio along with Bidzina Baratashvili, Imedi TV managing director and journalists of the television station were standing behind them]. As we have promised, the Imedi staff and its administration have made a certain decision and we are obliged to give detailed information in this regard. On behalf of the television’s administration and its staff, I will read out the statement about our decision.
First of all, who we are and what kind of television we are talking about. This is the television, which gained public confidence and respect thanks to its impartiality and freedom. We felt this confidence constantly during the November events. I will not enlist now all those stories which we have reported. I can only say that many of them [reports] - critical towards the authorities - have actually become basis of pre-election campaign of the governmental candidate [referring to Mikheil Saakashvili’s focus on many of those issues during his election campaign which were target of opponents’ criticism during his presidency].
Yes, we were criticizing the authorities and we were doing it not because of political reasons, but because of our journalistic profession. But recently Imedi has become a major target of dirty political games, which became trait of pre-election campaign period.
We want to confirm that during last month and a half, each of us, including our family members, have become the targets of pressure and blackmail by the authorities. During past two days the TV channels controlled by the authorities have created absolute hysteria that puts our staff under extremely difficult conditions. As a result of this hysteria, there are not even elementary guarantees for safe working of our employees.
We are considering several options in order to allow the station survive and the major [option on the table] involves transferring ownership from its actual owner [Badri Patarkatsishvili] to either the station’s staff or to a respected group whose impartiality would be beyond doubt, and in this regard, we are considering our partner, News Corporation.
Based on consultations with the television station’s owner Badri Patarkatsishvili and with News Corporation, which manages the television station, such a scenario is a real possibility.
But until the station’s legal status in respect of ownership is clarified, we are temporarily suspending broadcasts. It does not mean shutting down the station; we are only temporarily suspending broadcasts. By doing so we are distancing ourselves from dirty political games
We have the only goal – to save the station, which has been the most impartial and free national media outlet for past four years.
One more issue on which I want to emphasize your attention and which concerns me [Giorgi Targamadze]. During last two days my name was voiced in an unpleasant context. I declare that it is inadmissible for me to link my name with any provocative intention, in any context, regardless from where it may be coming – either from the authorities, or from any opposition [presidential] candidate. Personally I and, I am sure, the entire staff, are turning back to this dirty political adventurism, which have unfortunately become a trademark of the ongoing election campaign.