Disinterested Media: Huge Dilemma for Authorities
09 June, 2011
Disinterested Media: Huge Dilemma for Authorities

‘Operation which they are conducting in the holding resembles encirclement of enemy’

“I am sure there are people in the Administration who sincerely believe that objective media organizations interfere with their work of molding a new man, new Georgian. In this regard, Media Palitra Holding is a problem for the Authorities,” noted Christian-Democrat Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Parliamentary Minority in the interview with us.

Media Palitra is not an ordinary business house. It is a media house, a major guarantor of impartial

views, information delivery and reporting via both newspapers and Internet. We will be stupid if we forget about what was going on around the Georgian media after the Rose Revolution. I would describe the events of the recent years as sad chronology of Georgian media. From the moment the revolution was over, editorial policies of Government-held TV companies started to undergo makeovers. The control over Rustavi 2 went to their hands. So, there was no need in break-in of Special Forces. However, other TV channels were less lucky in this regard; they were subjected to break-ins, financial repressions or outright close-downs, for they defied foregoing independent editorial policy. As a result, Iberia and Channel 9 were induced to close down, even though the latter held a solid niche in broadcasting media for its balanced and objective reports. Lastly, everyone remembers the drama of Imedi TV. Events, that happened several times, tend to happen again; especially, when the Authorities do not look as if they were giving themselves up to democracy.

So called opposition media is not a problem for our authoritarian Administration because it is cliched doing everything opposition-wise in a biased and partial way. They are not dangerous to the Authorities because they are serving only a special group – opposition audience and reader, exerting no particular influence on the formation of public opinion and political processes.

In contrast, the Administration has an eye sore in the face of impartial media, such as media holding Palitra, an important source of up-to-date and balanced information. Maybe someone will call me biased. Yet, numbers are telling it everything. We can compare circulation of Kviris Palitra and other papers, or the numbers of InterPressNews and Internet Palitra TV users with those of others in these categories. All these are a digitally executed threat.

Throughout twenty years of Georgian independence, Media Palitra is effectively the only media undertaking that managed to grow into media business. Existence of large media holdings in Georgia has been always connected to political interests. Orientation only on the audience and its interests and only on advertisement market was not enough for survival in such an unhealthy environment. It can be said that Media Palitra is the only large and profitable business media organization, which - apart from being successful in media market – managed to diversify its business. And one more thing - it employs one thousand people. It’s a huge number in today’s business environment. Media Palitra is an independent business which did not say no to its principles, was not carried away by fluctuating political fashion (when radicalism or closeness to the Authorities was fashionable), maintained integrity and loyalty to its readers and audience. The audience of Palitra is increasing daily. It is another so called threat in the political settings of today’s Georgia.

The Authorities are interested in at least weakening the dangerous media outlet, or ideally to seize its control or just destroy it. In terms of political technologies, perhaps now is the right moment to achieve best results.

Q: What do you mean?

A: One of the important results of the 26 May events is the deflated ability of the public to resist. Most of the people feel nihilism in regard to political activities. In addition, summer is coming and it also makes it difficult to stage any real public action. If the Authorities conceived to give a lesson to Media Palitra, it is the most suitable moment to do it. It will incur only marginal political price for them to pay. Plus, no one will offer tangible resistance.

Despite this substantial suspicion, I hope the Authorities have not completely gone nuts. The scale of solidarity to Media Palitra that

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