Arrested Global TV Property – Pressure on Free Media Business
28 June, 2012
Arrested Global TV Property – Pressure on Free Media Business

Global Contact Consulting LLC, a telecommunications cable operator company largely known as Global TV, faces moral as well as financial losses accruing to several millions as a result of improper property seizure on June 21, 2012. While Global TV files a lawsuit to revoke the writ on property arrest, the non-governmental watchdogs assess the property arrest as a political pressure on free media and hail Georgian prosecutors’ Office to apply to proportionate manners respective to all media companies. 

 

In the afternoon

of June 21, authorities started to seize satellite dishes from a warehouse Elite Burji where Global TV, the television provider in which brother of Georgian political tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili [leader of oppositionist political party Georgian Dream] owns 66.8%, appears to store as many as 70 thousand satellite dishes. The confiscation was approved by a court order stating that there was reason to believe that Global TV would use the dishes to bribe voters in favor of Georgian Dream.

According to the Prosecutor’s office website this reason was elaborated as following:  the Prosecutor’s office launched a criminal investigation against Global TV and Bidzina Ivanishvili for it was distributing satellite dishes “free of charge” in various regions of Georgia and despite the warning of Control Chamber of Georgia (CCG) the company has continued its practice. Therefore Prosecutor’s office requested Tbilisi City Court to seal satellite antennas in order “to prevent further commission of the crime”. The Court did approve the claim however nobody informed Global TV of the planned property arrest and the company learned it from media.

But this is just one point in the long rap sheet based on which non-governmental lawyers find the questioned property arrest illegal as it is implemented through breakage of procedures of the criminal procedural code.

Kakha Kozhoridze, a lawyer of Georgia Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), involved in the case from the very beginning, said the writ on property arrest did not include the signature of the judge initially that is essential to make the document legal; only second version of the writ exposed a colorless, scarcely visible signature that makes lawyers presume the paper was signed beforehand.

One of the key infringements is the property arrest can be applied only against the charged person whose crime is already recognized by court.

“Since the case is based on alleged bribing of voters and there is no person who committed the action there is no charged one in fact,” Andria Nadiradze, a legal advisor of Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) explained to Georgian Journal. “Moreover, property arrest is envisaged by law for especially severe offences sentening from 10 year to life imprisonment, while vote bribing falls in less severe offences sentencing the culprit for 3 years and property arrest cannot be applied for that. Considering the abovementioned facts, the ruling of the Tbilisi City Court on the seizure of broadcasting equipment of Global TVwas inconsistent with the legislation in force.”

Kozhoridze goes even further. According to him, the questioned property arrest restricted private property of the warehouse Elite Burji too for it was implemented within its territory with no legal writ on it.

This property arrest case is a follow up to the court decision that fined Ivanishvili by GEL 150 million [that was cut down to roughly GEL 74 million based on the Court of Appeals decision later] for vote bribing. CCG appealed the court by the claim that Ivanishvili allegedly has been bribing voters through his companies. The claim included several implications and installation of satellite dishes and receivers through preferential package in Georgian regions by Global TV that is the single cable operator in Georgia broadcasting the recently founded 9th TV Channel owned by Ivanishvili’s spouse, was in the package.

According to Zurab Bazladze, Marketing Director of Global TV, the company is a victim of political game that hampered the company’s development in regions now forestalled by competitors due to the property arrest.

The company offered installation of dishes based on 10-year payment in installments. It fixed GEL 4 as a monthly payment however exempted clients from the first year payment that CCG found non-commercial and aimed on vote-sweeping for Ivanishvili. However Global TV was not summoned even as a witness on the process. But after the court CCG warned Global TV to run business based on market prices. The Court of Appeals expertised the questioned business-plan and the experts company recommended revising of the business-plan: the lease-contract term was cut from 10 to 6 years and the monthly payment increased from GEL 4 to GEL 5.5. Economic analysts assure it was none of the CCG business to interfere in the private company’s business plan even if it is commercially non-profitable as far as CCG is responsible for the state-budget-based organizations activity alone. Global TV appeased to the recommendations but it could not escape the property seizure throughout the country that exposed Global TV to both financial and marketing losses.

“This was a business project to us, but situation developed in political facet. Political parties started making comments that irritated government and we turned out a victim of misunderstanding,” Bazladze said in the interview with Georgian Journal. “Our loss is much bigger than just of financial character that we faced by taking a GEL 5-6 million worth credit for financing the project that we cannot implement at the moment.  Other competitor companies are taking advantage now that we cannot go ahead with antennae installation at the moment, and enhance their business thanks to the business idea we dictated to the market in fact that is of crucial importance to us.”

Besides, it is restriction of information, Bazladze believes for other companies install antennas much slower than Global TV planned: 20 thousands instead of planned 100 thousand tentatively. Non-governmental watchdogs also think the Global TV property arrest is a pressure on free media that is more important in the pre-election period for Parliamentary elections scheduled this October.

GYLA as well as TI Georgia appeal to the Georgian Prosecutor’s office to ensure that all actions that affect media companies are taken in a transparent and proportionate manner.

“Any sanctions should be based on clear evidence and conducted in a way that does not limit freedom of the media. The Global TV property is arrested against the law,” Nina Khatiskatsi, a program manager at TI Georgia, said to GJ. “There should be a balance. There are many projects like pensions increase, students employment as well as free outside internet service throughout Tbilisi initiated by City Hall recently, the project that is implemented by private company in fact but it is associated with the City Hall name. All these also contain pre-election campaign context. There is no law to prohibit this directly but such cases should also be investigated.”

According to Kozhoridze, all restrictions on the freedom of expression protected by constitution must be based on law, especially in the pre-election period when people need all kind of information even contradicting each other and the Global TV antennas were supposed to insure this variety for it offered both so called oppositionist TV channels like Maestro or Kavkasia along with all national channels.

Print
Other Stories
The World Digital Mining Summit to be held in Georgia
The summit is scheduled to take place between 21st-23rd September in the Hualing Hotel, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Galt and Taggart - Tourism Boom Continues in Georgia
Tourism has become one of the key drivers for the Georgian economy. Galt and Taggart has recently published research about the Georgian tourism sector in the first half of 2018.
"The worst dream for Putin is that Russians want to live in Georgia"
This year, visitors to the Adjara region would notice that there is a boom in construction in and around Batumi.
Underground gas storage facility to be built in Georgia
KfW, a German government-owned development bank signed a EUR 150 million promotional loan with the state-owned Georgian Oil and Gas Corporation (GOGC) for the construction of the first underground gas storage facility in Georgia.
New gambling rules for Georgia
Georgian lawmakers are preparing a new draft law relating to online-casinos and gambling that will seek to curb gambling addiction in Georgia.
How expensive is it to visit Georgia?
The Georgian Lari (GEL) is the official currency of Georgia and is the only legal means of payment in the entire territory of Georgia.
Trade with the EU and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has grown significantly
Trade with the EU and the CIS has grown by 26% and 33.5 % respectively, says GeoStat, the Georgian National Statistics Office.
The unemployment rate decreases in Georgia
The unemployment rate decreased in Georgia by 1,9% and amounted to 12.1% in the 2nd quarter of 2018 compared with the previous quarter,
Memorandum of Understanding to be signed between Georgia and Malaysia
According to the Georgian Ambassador to Malaysia Nikoloz Apkhazava, Georgia plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Malaysia.
“Blauenstein Georgia” due to expand in Georgia
“Blauenstein Georgia” is planning to open more shops in Georgia. It is an agriculture company that sells meat products, meat and convenience food.
The amount of Direct Foreign Investment rises in Georgia
According to the information of the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the amount of direct foreign investment in Georgia has risen
It’s going to get  harder for foreigners to get residence permit in Georgia
It’s going to get harder for foreigners to get permit of residence in Georgia.
Mziuri Park in Tbilisi to be renovated soon
It was the dream of prominent Georgian writer Nodar Dumbadze that when the original Mziuri park was constructed and opened in 1892 that it should be a park for children,
Winemakers to produce Kvanchkara in its place of origin - Racha
Khvanchakara is a semi-sweet Georgian red wine which originates from Racha, in the western part of Georgia. Kvanchkara is made of two types of grape Mujuretuli and Aleksandrouli.
The level of Georgian wine and Chacha exported has increased
The National Wine Agency of Georgia has recently published statistical information about the level of Georgian wine and Chacha exported between January and July, 2018.
New fire engines to be Manufactured in Georgia
The Acting Head of the Emergency Management Agency Shalva Khutsishvili said that the old Zili fire engines (which were made in the USSR) will be phased out and replaced with new ones, manufactured in Georgia.
Georgia witnesses a record number of tourists
The Georgian National Tourism Administration publishes statistical information about international visits to Georgia.
Canadian businessman plans to build a hotel in Bakhmaro
Canadian businessman Vadim Malishev plans to build a hotel in Bakhmaro resort, Guria, in the western part of Georgia.
Coffee Factory will open in Tbilisi in October
The first coffee factory (which will be located on the Kakheti highway) in Tbilisi will open in October.
Places in Georgia where real estate is the most expensive
The real estate market in Georgia is growing annually. In Tbilisi as well as other regions of Georgia new developments are increasingly taking place.
How much does a vacation cost in Tbilisi?
It is the middle of summer and those who have not yet taken a vacation are looking for an appropriate place for sure!
The price for extreme sports in Georgia
Georgia offers a variety of options to extreme sport lovers.
The number of Georgians who own property abroad increases
The number of foreign properties owned by Georgians is increasing.
How much does Taxi cost in Tbilisi?
Stories how Taxi drivers try to deceive passengers and charge them with more money than they should pay are known for everybody all over the world.
What are the highest paid areas in Georgia
According to the data collected by the National Statistics Office of Georgia in the first quarter of 2018 the highest paid jobs in Georgia are found in the financial and insurance fields.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Exchange Rates
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
20.09.2018
21.09.2018
USD
1
USD
2.6179
2.6193
EUR
1
EUR
3.0606
3.0693
GBP
1
GBP
3.4517
3.4651
RUB
100
RUB
3.9087
3.9538
Other Stories
Recently Toyota rolled out Global Campaign under this slogan that reflects the Olympic and Paralympic Spirit of Encouragement,
A couple from Switzerland combines Swiss tradition and technology with Georgian products. Their cheese is made in the Georgian mountains and sold in local stores and hotels.
It has been more than five years since the residents of Lilo village, near Tbilisi, cannot open their windows.
63 000 GEL was received by the Georgian Agro Export Group which is just a small part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agricultural and Rural development.
Georgian entrepreneur Guka Tavberidze, who runs his own business in the UK and does it quite well, has been invited by BBC
The grand opening of 7-star The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi took place in Georgia’s capital on July 31.
DUSHETI, Georgia – The Georgian government and the World Bank will allocate USD 5.6 million (12 million GEL) to fund
A new Georgian clothing brand named Person has emerged in Georgian market.
Georgia is in the midst of an economic maelstrom, Euronews reports.
Situation at Georgia’s mineral water market is interesting: over the last year, the volume of export has grown by 56 percent. According to “GeoStat”, over $114 million worth of mineral water was sold
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.6193
EUR
1
EUR
3.0693
GBP
1
GBP
3.4651
RUB
100
RUB
3.9538