08TBILISI495, FUTURE OF IMEDI TELEVISION IS CLOUDY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI495 2008-03-21 13:09 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1405
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0495 0811309
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 211309Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9143
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000495 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC AND DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/21/2018 
TAGS: PGOV EINV GG
SUBJECT: FUTURE OF IMEDI TELEVISION IS CLOUDY 
 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Mark X. Perry, reason 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1. (U) The GOG's forcible closure of Imedi Television on 
November 7 was a serious setback on Georgia's path to 
democracy that drew international opprobrium at the time. 
The GOG allowed Imedi to return to the air on December 12. 
The station again ceased broadcasting on December 26, this 
time because news anchors and other key staff resigned after 
its owner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, was videotaped in 
negotiations that raised suspicion he was seriously planning 
a coup against the Georgian government.  Imedi has remained 
off the air since that time. 
 
2. (U) The Georgia National Communications Commission has 
informed Imedi's manager, Bidzina Baratashvili, that Imedi 
will lose its license if it remains off the air after March 
26.  We have spoken to Levan Nanobashvili, an attorney for 
Imedi, who says that there is no legal impediment to Imedi's 
return to the air, and in fact, according to Nanobashvili, 
management intends to restart broadcasting in time to prevent 
loss of the license.  The station seems to have the equipment 
and the personnel to do so, at least in a limited way. 
Reportedly, the assets of the company are not frozen by any 
court order at this time. 
 
3. (U) As with other Patarkatsishvili holdings, such as 
Standard Bank, determining the true owner of Imedi is not a 
simple matter.  Patarkatsishvili continuously held himself 
out as Imedi's owner and was universally recognized as such. 
He clearly exercised control over its editorial views. 
According to Baratashvili, Imedi Television is wholly owned 
by a company, I-Media, which in turn is owned 70 percent by 
JMG Consulting Group and 30 percent by Universal Limited. 
JMG is owned by one Gogi Jaoshvili, a friend and business 
partner of Patarkatsishvili, and Universal is owned by Paata 
Namsuridze and Vazha Totladze.  Opposition leader Goga 
Khaindrava is quoted as saying that the ownership of JMG also 
includes the company Maudi (owned by a U.S. investment firm) 
and a Patarkatsishvili foundation, Gamarjveba, although it is 
not clear why Khaindrava would be well-informed about Imedi's 
ownership. 
 
4. (C) Reports have surfaced that Jaoshvili has sold his 
interest in JMG and/or Imedi TV to one Joseph Kay, also known 
as Joseph Kakalashvili.  Kay/Kakalashvili is extremely 
low-profile, but it appears he may be an owner of the Rustavi 
Metallurgical Works in Rustavi and the Zestaphoni ferro-alloy 
plant.  He is reportedly a relative of Patarkatshishvili.  He 
may also be known as Lord Joseph Kay, although there is no 
British lord of that name listed on the House of Lords 
website.  According to the website of Tri-Valley Corporation 
(a U.S. oil exploration firm) Lord Joseph Kay is an owner and 
member of the company's Executive Advisory Board.  He is 
described as having been born in Georgia, to have emigrated 
to Israel as a teenager and then settled in the United States 
where he became a citizen.  He is listed as being Chairman of 
London International Bank Ltd, an investment bank, and as 
having numerous other business interests, including steel 
manufacture and Florida real estate.  He is said to play a 
significant role in U.S.-Georgia economic relations, 
including projects involving appearances with President 
Saakashvili. 
 
5. (U) Badri Patarkatsishvili's widow, Inna Gudavadze, has 
charged that the sale to Kay by Jaoshvili was coerced by the 
Government of Georgia and is part of a scheme to divest her 
and Patarkatsishvili's heirs of their rightful interest in 
Imedi.  Members of the opposition, as well as Irakli 
Okruashvili in Paris, have raised the alarm and leaped to 
Gudavadze's defense.  A demonstration under the slogan "Get 
Imedi Back" is planned for March 24 outside the Parliament. 
Gudavadze met on March 19 with Nino Burjanadze, Chairman of 
the Parliament.  Burjanadze denied that the government is 
seeking control of Imedi, and that the matter of ownership is 
strictly "an internal family dispute" with which the 
government will have nothing to do.  She also said she had 
offered the names of people who could better answer 
Gudavadze's questions. 
 
6. (C) Lewis Robertson, who represents News Corporation in 
Georgia, has told us that News Corp was close to finalizing 
the purchase of Imedi with Patarkatsishvili just before he 
died.  He considers the dispute over the station's ownership 
to be a family situation but seems sympathetic to Gudavadze. 
Gudavadze has said she wants to put Imedi back on the air and 
bring in "an international independent media company to 
manage it." 
PERRY

Wikileaks

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