08TBILISI1890, GEORGIA: GOVERNMENT REVIEWS MAESTRO LICENSE,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1890 2008-10-10 15:11 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3501
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1890 2841511
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101511Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0248
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001890 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: GOVERNMENT REVIEWS MAESTRO LICENSE, 
AGREES TO POLITICAL PROGRAMMING 
 
REF: TBILISI 1602 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d). 
 
 1.  (C)  Summary.  Speaker of Parliament Bakradze announced 
October 10 that the Parliament would modify the nature of the 
license for the radio station Maestro to enable it to 
broadcast political talk shows.  Maestro, whose request to 
expand its entertainment broadcasting to include political 
programming, had lost in court in its effort to gain a new 
license.  Deputy Foreign Minister Bokeria told emboff that 
after consultations with the Parliament and the Georgian 
National Communication Commission, the Government reached a 
verbal deal with Maestro -- a friendly settlement that will 
permit Maestro to broadcast political programs.  He said that 
the license would take a few weeks to go into effect, but 
that Maestro would soon be back on the air.   End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment.  In recent conversations with senior 
members of Saakashvili's cabinet, Post has urged Georgia's 
leadership to review closely its efforts to support a free 
and independent media and to move quickly to implement the 
President's ambitious reform agenda which he announced to 
Parliament on September 16 (reftel A).  We have urged senior 
officials to take concrete steps to lead the way on 
democratic reform in order to counter Russian allegations 
that Saakashvili is not committed to democratic reform and to 
convince skeptical European allies that Georgia is ready for 
MAP accession.  The Government's decision to work with 
Maestro to end the licensing dispute is an important signal 
that Saakashvili's government heard our concerns.   End 
Comment. 
 
MAESTRO LICENSE 
 
3.  (C)  Poloff met with Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria 
to express concern over a recent court ruling which denied a 
broadcast license to a regional cable production company 
"Maestro."  Maestro is financed by the brother of opposition 
leader Levan Gachechiladze.  In March 2008 the Georgian 
National Communication Commission (GNCC) revoked their 
broadcast license due to legitimate violations of their 
previous broadcast license.   Polof urged the government to 
consider that issuance of their license at this time could 
persuade critics that the President remains committed to 
media freedom in Georgia.  Some critics were beginning to 
call for conditionality to U.S. assistance to Georgia and it 
was important that President Saakashvili act decisively to 
prove that conditionality was not necessary. 
 
4.  (C)  The Deputy FM understood the need to revisit the 
license issue and said that the government would discuss with 
the GNCC.  He encouraged U.S. observers to follow upcoming 
domestic developments closely and promised that the 
government would soon take a range of actions based on U.S. 
advice and urging.  In a separate meeting with Ambassador 
Tefft on October 8, Speaker of the Parliament David Bakradze 
also promised to review the status of the Maestro license. 
On a related topic, Both Bakradze and Bokeria predicted that 
a new wave of talk shows reflecting a variety of political 
view points would soon be on the airwaves. 
 
5.  (SBU)  On October 10, Bokeria informed the Embassy that 
the government, members of the Parliamentary majority and 
minority, the GNCC and representatives of Maestro had reached 
a "friendly agreement" ending the dispute over Maestro's 
license.  Bokeria believed that the formal decision would 
take several weeks to be issued, but the announcement 
regarding the decision has already been made public by 
Speaker Bakradze and the Parliament. 
 
NEW PARTY FUNDING MODEL TO BE LAUNCHED 
QNEW PARTY FUNDING MODEL TO BE LAUNCHED 
 
5. (C)  DFM Bokeria also informed Poloff that, as a result of 
the discussion between the Secretary and President 
Saakashvili in July 2008, the President had decided to 
propose the German "Stiftung" model for party funding. 
Details were still being worked out, but he predicted that 
resources available to parties -- including those which did 
not accept seats in the Parliament -- would increase 
significantly.  Also in response to U.S. urging, Bokeria 
predicted that the new criminal procedure code could be 
passed by Parliament before the end of October. 
TEFFT

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