Opposition Disapproves of New Public Broadcasting Director
TBILISI – Media watchers and opposition members are expressing disapproval at the selection of Vasil Maghlaperidz as new Director General of Georgia’s Public Broadcaster (GPB).
Maghlaperidze was elected on Friday in the second round of secret balloting by GPB’s eight-member board of directors, receiving six votes.
Before the final voting, some members of the media and the opposition repeated concerns that Maghlaperidze was favored by the current government. Maghlaperidze is himself a former employee of GDS TV, which is owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili, founder of ruling the Georgian Dream party (GD) and ex-Prime Minister of Georgia. Maghlaperidze produced a program for GDS TV called “2030.”
Lasha Tugushi, a media commentator, called the decision shameful.
“Their decision has ended development of the GPB. We, the society, are paying 40 million GEL to the broadcaster for such incompetent decisions. This is unfair,” Tugushi said.
Another commentator, Zviad Koridze, said the board of directors had elected a politically biased person.
"It is a sad reality. The board made a political biased decision. It actually made a decision to prevent development of the GPB as an independent and democratic institution. They elected a person who had been openly speaking about his political bias during the interview”, said Koridze.
Members of Georgia’s main opposition party – the United National Movement (UNM) – have expressed their own disappointment, fearing that the new director will take orders from the government.
“Everything is absolutely clear. A politically biased person won the elections and now the broadcaster has become dependent on the government,” said Sergi Kapanadze, a member of UNM.
Fifteen people filed initial applications for the position. Members of GPB’s board of directors chose the candidates among 14, after candidate Bachuki Bakhtadze was excluded following review by the board.
The Board of Trustees of GPB announced an open competition for the vacant position on November 28th, after the former Director General, Giorgi Baratashvili, left his post right ahead the October 8th parliamentary elections.
Five candidates were considered during the next round of voting: Zaal Anjaparidze, Vasil Maghlaperidze, Nino Zautashvili, Tinatin Berdzenishvili and Natia Kuprashvili. That ballot resulted in a run-off between Maghlaperidze and Berdzenishvili.
The new director general denies all allegations and says that his political past is not a crime.
“Everyone has his past. The main thing is that this past should not be shameful. I do not think that I have done anything that I should be ashamed of,” said Maghlaperidze, adding that some changes would take place at the broadcaster.
The new director said he would do his best to transform GPB into the nation’s leading broadcaster. He will serve his term for the next six years.
By Thea Morrison