09TBILISI1528, GEORGIA: NO SURPRISES IN SELECTION OF PUBLIC TV’S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1528 2009-08-12 07:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0358
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1528/01 2240721
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 120721Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2021
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001528 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/12/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: NO SURPRISES IN SELECTION OF PUBLIC TV'S 
GENERAL DIRECTOR 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 1510 
     B. TBILISI 1408 
     C. TBILISI 1382 
 
Classified By: Acting Charge d'Affaires a.i. Kent Logsdon for reasons 1 
.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary/Comment: On August 10 Georgia Public 
Broadcasting's (GPB) Board of Trustees elected Gia Chanturia 
as the new GPB General Director.  Perceived as the ruling 
United National Movement's (UNM) candidate, Chanturia was 
widely expected to be selected for the position (ref A). 
Chanturia is considered intelligent and highly qualified. 
However, the opposition has already expressed its 
disappointment, labeling him a UNM supporter.  During his 
interview with the board, Chanturia downplayed his role in 
past GPB programming and budgetary decisions and advanced his 
vision of a board of trustees with more authority over the 
station to foster a more content neutral approach. 
Expectedly, Chanturia's election is facing criticism, 
especially from the opposition; however, like the GoG's pick 
of Giorgi Tugushi (ref B) for Ombudsman, few if any question 
his experience and technical ability to do the job.  Similar 
to Tugushi, Chanturia will be under intense scrutiny to 
demonstrate his independence from the government in a 
politically charged position.  While Chanturia is talking a 
good game, making promises that the GPB will not be subject 
to political pressures, many question if he is the right 
person to make this happen give his UNM ties.  End 
Summary/Comment. 
 
THE NEW HEAD OF PUBLIC TV 
 
2.  (C)  As the former deputy general director, Chanturia 
will have difficulty in winning over critics in his new 
position.  GPB has been drowning in controversy following the 
resignation of four board members for what they felt was an 
intentional lack of coverage of non-parliamentary opposition 
protests.  The former general director, Levan Kubaneishvili, 
resigned after only sixteen months in office in part due to 
his disdain for the politics surrounding the GPB (ref C). 
Chanturia already stated that he will not allow any political 
forces to pressure the GPB's programming decisions, and that 
come October most programming will be new.  During his 
interview with the board, Chanturia blamed the lack of 
transparency over spending and programming decisions on the 
poor managerial structure at the station saying that "I 
understand society demands transparency, but even for me this 
information was not accessible, not because someone was 
blocking it from me, but simply because of the current 
managerial structure which did not allow me to have access to 
that type of information."  Chanturia also pledged to air 
investigative reports, a main point of contention with many 
of the station's critics.  He also called for more in-depth 
coverage of major events saying that he did not doubt the 
journalists' impartiality, but believed their professional 
abilities needed to be further developed. 
 
3.  (C)  Chanturia's perceived pro-GOG bias has subjected him 
to criticism before making even a single decision.  Pikria 
Chikhradze from the New Rights party criticized the board of 
trustees for "not being brave enough to vote for other 
candidates."  Some fear that Chanturia's appointment will 
result in even closer control by the GOG of nationwide 
television channels.  Journalist with Radio Free Europe/Radio 
Liberty Ia Antadze said, "(t)his TV channel has never 
belonged to the people and will still not belong to the 
people, at least for now." Nino Burjanadze commented to 
Poloff that the decision represented nothing and even a child 
knew that Chanturia was Saakashvili's and Deputy Foreign 
Qknew that Chanturia was Saakashvili's and Deputy Foreign 
Minister Giga Bokeria's "right hand man". 
 
GPB RESPONDS TO CALLS FOR TRANSPARENCY: BROADCASTS INTERVIEWS 
 
4.  (C)  In an answer to calls for more transparency in the 
selection process, GPB posted video of the August 7 
interviews with the three finalists to their website. 
Sixteen applicants originally applied, but only three 
received enough votes from board members to make it to the 
interviews.  In one interview, long-time journalist and 
general director candidate Zviad Koridze (considered the most 
experienced candidate by many media commentators) criticized 
the lack of journalism skills at the station.  He also 
criticized politicians across the political spectrum for not 
being interested in having fact-based professional 
journalism.  The third candidate, film director Giorgi 
Kacharava, admitted that news and political programming was 
his weak point, but went on to say that he did know that 
"(w)e should not create the perception that someone is being 
blocked from being heard."  During his own interview 
Chanturia placed blame on the journalists themselves saying 
that "as far as I know they were not active enough," but 
 
TBILISI 00001528  002 OF 002 
 
 
that, "I am not trying to portray myself as a good guy and 
others as bad ones."  The current eight-member board elected 
Chanturia by secret ballot.  Chanturia received the necessary &
#x000A;five votes to be elected to the position. 
LOGSDON

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