After an initial launch on internet earlier this month, the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Russian-language TV channel, First Caucasian, is now available on satellite.
The new TV channel, which in Georgia also goes out on cable, has triggered first reaction from Russia with senior official describing the channel as part of Georgia’s “anti-Russian propaganda” and an attempt “to plant ideology of extremism” in North Caucasus.
“The closest attention should be paid to a brainchild of the Georgian propaganda machine – a Russian-language TV channel First Caucasian, which was launched this year,” Russia’s Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev said on January 14.
“Sponsored by the American structures with budget of USD 3 million the airtime will also be allocated to relatives of Chechen fighters.”
“The TV channel is definitely directed towards planting anti-Russian, anti-state stance and the ideology of extremism,” he added.
These remarks by Yedelev made at a meeting with police officials in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, were aired by the First Caucasian TV channel.
In the same speech, the Russian Deputy Interior Minister also blamed Georgia for harboring militant groups – the allegation denied by Georgia as “absurd” and an attempt to create pretext for stirring tensions on the Georgian-Russian border.
Apart of coverage of current events in Georgia, the TV channel provides news from Russia and its North Caucasus republics.
Head of the Georgian public broadcaster said at the time of launch of the First Caucasian that the TV channel would be an opportunity for viewers “to learn such facts, both from history and current events, which are not possible to learn from other Russian-language TV channels.”
“Especially from the Russian media sources,” he added. “So we will serve the people of Caucasus.”
According to the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s senior of officials the new channels annual budget would be roughly GEL 3 million (about USD 1.7 million); but no exact figure is yet known.
The Public Broadcaster’s board of trustees has yet to approve the broadcaster’s internal budget for 2010. The state budget allocated total of GEL 22 million for the broadcaster, which runs three TV channels and two radio stations and in addition the broadcaster expects to earn additional up to GEL 10 million from ad revenues and other sources including from renting its various facilities.