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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Georgian Public Broadcaster former journalists blame channel for censorship, blacklisting

Journalists from the public broadcaster's First Station, "Akhali Kvira" (New Week), claimed that the channel maintained a "so-called" black list of respondents and journalists, who have been banned from comment collection and AIR invitations.

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Journalists from the public broadcaster’s First Station, “Akhali Kvira” (New Week), claimed that the channel maintained a “so-called” black list of respondents and journalists, who have been banned from comment collection and AIR invitations.

The before-mentioned list contains non-governmental groups, lawmakers, academics, and cultural figures.

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The Akhali Kvira programme has not been broadcast for the past three months. At a briefing organised at the Georgian office of Transparency International, three journalists who left the channel – Imeda Darsalia, Sopho Zedelashvili, and Tamta Dzhanadze – claimed that the channel is censored.

According to the former host of Akhali Kvir – Imeda Darsalia, the “black list” comprised all the Rondeli Foundation’s experts, including Zurab Batiashvili. Eka Akobia, former European Integration Minister Buka Petriashvili, former Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli, Caucasus expert Levan Dzhedzhelava, international relations expert Batu Kutelia, and the whole Georgian section of the US Atlantic Council were also on the list.

Some topics were also restricted, according to Darsalia.

“The package about the USSR’s war crimes was blocked, causing a conflict within the crew. Protests in Belarus were also halted because the channel’s management refused to condemn the Lukashenka administration. I was also advised not to write negatively about Russia, drawing a connection with the United States – Just as you can’t write negatively about America, you can’t write negatively about Russia either, because a particular segment of our audience is pro-Russian,” Darsalia was quoted as.

Tamta Dzhanadze, another journalist for the Akhali Kvira, admitted that the channel’s management asked that negative remarks about the ruling party should be edited or erased.

In a news conference, she revealed that she faced a lot of barriers while working on the week’s main political issue. Due to “untimeliness,” some materials on current political subjects were excluded from the program.

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She further said that management attempted to either eliminate or reduce critical comments regarding government leaders.

“Before the program aired, the general producer went into the editing studio and edited out critical expert statements, which were regarding the governing party officials. In addition, I had to clip out graphic materials based on statistics from the Central Election Commission, which showed that Georgian Dream had lost the same percentage of supporters in six years as the former right-wing National Movement party had lost in nine years,” the journalist explained.

According to her, the prepared information about the opposition’s shadow cabinet “did not get into the program due to the time.”

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