Television in Georgia
08 November, 2012
Television in Georgia

I returned to Georgia in 2001 after a very long absence. Before, I had done a couple of stints on the American Television, the impression remaining indelible for the rest of my life. I found myself in Georgia on the television either – straight into the fire from the frying pan. Being on the air in America and having a TV presence in Georgia are two different kinds of sensation, as I came to believe right after my come-back.

In America,

when working on TV, you know that you are part of big money. Here in Georgia, the feeling is that you are part of big politics. That’s all! My first question once I stepped back on the native land more than ten years ago was if Television in Georgia was remunerative. I thought the question was natural – after all, I had just returned from the biggest capitalist country in the world where television happens to be a huge cash machine. Life was so simple in the now defunct USSR – there was only one state-owned TV Company, bursting of soviet-style demagoguery and communist propaganda. People were used to the routine and nobody cared much. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the television business started developing and the TV stations popped up like mushrooms all over the place. Television impressed people like one of those new privately owned businesses but my question remained unanswered forever. Let me pose the funny question once again: Is television business remunerative in Georgia? Does it make money or it just spends it? Well, if it only spends, then why is it called a business? I was told by specialists that the TV commercial market in Georgia is so tiny that it could easily be a subject of our nonchalance. Some of the answers were even more daring – television is a tool – I would say a ‘weapon’ – in the hands of those who want to be in Georgian politics for the reasons consciously recognized or unrecognized. To be in politics here is a matter of great fun and not only. Often times, it is interpreted as a convenient way of survival. Viewership-wise, all goes normal here – television in Georgia is not suffering from the lack of people’s ears and eyes. The question is if the effect of the only money-maker in the TV commercial market, which is advertising, has the effect it should have for us to deem television a business as such. If the answer is No, then why do we need so many businesses that do not make money? Why waste time?  Why can’t we direct our national energy towards trying something more rational than the money-spending TV? Would it be a great tragedy for Georgia if we do without such an overwhelming number of TV stations which want but cannot make money? If these guys are money squanderers and the time-eaters into the bargain, why on earth do we need to have them around? Don’t tell me now that they are all helping the Nation grow culturally, or assist the population in terms of enhancing their education level to the best benefit of theirs. Let us remember a bit of classic about television functionality – information, education, entertainment, and I would add economic usefulness. Exclude the latter, think of how much info we need to survive, consider the limited educational ability of television and absurdity of that interminable tasteless entertainment! What would be left? Left will be a question to be answered – how many TV stations does Georgia need to optimize its life? Makes sense to ponder sagely, doesn’t it?

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